VINITA — Teddy bears and balloons adorned the fence line of Will Rogers Elementary School on Tuesday evening, honoring 9-year-old Milagros Villalpando.
The fourth-grade student, known as Milly, died Monday after being hospitalized when she lost consciousness during a physical education class.
A fundraiser already planned for Tuesday night, Bingo for Books for the Hall Halsell Elementary, set aside a portion of the funds raised for the Villalpando family.
The cause of Milly’s death has not been determined, pending toxicology reports that can take up to several weeks, said Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the state Medical Examiner’s Office.
Vinita Public Schools Superintendent Kelly Grimmett said Milly had just finished playing a five-minute round of basketball with a group of girls Monday and was in a corner resting when another girl from the group approached the teacher to report something was wrong with her teammate.
After checking on Milly, the teacher called 911 and sought help from the school office. The girl at that point was not talking but had her eyes open and was breathing, Grimmett said. By the time Principal Michael Wilson arrived at the gym, she had lost consciousness and was not breathing, so Wilson performed CPR.
Grimmett said emergency responders worked on Milly in the gym but were unable to stabilize her condition, so she was transported to a local hospital. Doctors tried to get her stable enough to be flown to a Tulsa hospital, but the girl reportedly never regained consciousness.
“We have had a lot of people that are supporting the family,” said Hailey Bump, 16, one of three students greeting guests and selling bingo tickets at the fundraiser.
Organizers expected 400 people at Bingo for Books, but the crowd quickly grew to over 600.
Vinita residents rally around their own, said Mary Smith, principal of Hall Halsell Elementary. Many of the teachers at Hall Halsell had Milly in class, she said.
An account has also been established to help the Villalpando family at Oklahoma State Bank in Vinita. Persons wishing to donate may do so at the bank or by mail to:
Oklahoma State Bank
FBO Milly Villalpando
120 W. Canadian Ave.
Vinita OK, 74301
“We just hugged our children tighter tonight,” said Stephanie Hoskin, a PTO parent, and former teacher. “We come together to help a family in need.”
Counselors from the district and other groups including the Cherokee Nation crisis team were at the school on Tuesday. Grimmett said counselors have volunteered to continue offering services as needed throughout the week.
A funeral mass for Milly will be held 10 a.m., Friday, Nov. 17, at the Ewing Halsell Middle School Auditorium, 226 N Miller St, Vinita, with Rev. M. E. Cashen officiating.