A Bedford elementary school teacher who had to abruptly stop working when she went into early labor had her spirits lifted by her students and fellow teachers this Christmas season.
Heather and Adam Thomas spent Christmas Eve at Cooks Children's NICU to be with their daughter Collins, who was born Sept. 28 along with her twin sister Lennox at just 24 weeks and five days.
"After 15 days of life, our Lennox went home to be with the Lord. But Collins is still with us and she's fighting every single day," Heather said.
The new mom is spending every day with her preemie.
"I would say the best way to describe it is a rollercoaster. There are days that are absolutely incredible and there are days that are excruciatingly hard," Heather said.
The teacher said she misses her sixth grade students at Bedford Heights Elementary School.
"I actually went in for a routine doctor's appointment the day that the girls were telling us they were coming and so I hadn't been back to work since then, which has been really hard for me. Of course I know I'm where I'm supposed to be with my daughter, but I sincerely missed my students," Heather said.
They miss her too and decided to surprise their teacher via Facetime with a heart-felt message.
"I was a bucket of tears to say the least," Heather said.
Instead of exchanging gifts, students decided to do a toy drive donating the gifts to Cooks Children's Hospital in memory of Lennox and in honor of Collins.
It was an unexpected show of support for a beloved teacher and her family.
"It was really heartwarming," said Adam. "It's nice to see students that love their teacher enough to do something like that."