Beloved Valley educator passes away from COVID

vanessa lopez delgado.PNG
Posted at 9:41 PM, Dec 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-11 00:11:04-05

"It doesn't seem real. She just had so much, so much more to do," says Jessica Morel, Vanessa's cousin.

Jessica Morel says she will continue to honor her cousin, 42-year-old Vanessa Lopez Delgado. The Valley mother passed away from COVID-19 just days after being diagnosed.

"She said, 'It feels like I'm drowning; I cannot catch my breath,'" says Morel.

Vanessa was not only an inspiration to her family but, an inspiration to the community. She worked over the years as a dance instructor.

"Her first teaching job at Gilbert High, she made it a mission to start a dance club because they didn't have one at that time. So, she started 1101 dance team at Gilbert High School and wanted to make sure that there was a place for students who might not have access to formal dance classes," says Morel.

From Gilbert High to Seton Catholic Preparatory and Chandler-Gilbert Community College - her students are forever impacted.

Alli and Madison share Vanessa's choreography and dance skills as a way to keep their former instructor's legacy alive.

"She's just something special and I just can't believe that she's gone already. It saddens me that she's not here with us," says Madison Hisle, a former student.

Vanessa was even the reason Alli ended up switching her major from nursing to performance movement.

"Before I got to Chandler-Gilbert, I wasn't much of a dancer, I wouldn't call myself a dancer... but after I had taken classes with her and been on her company for three years, she made me the dancer that I am," says Alli De La Cruz.

One of Vanessa's daughters is already following in her footsteps in dance; the other playing the family's favorite sport: soccer.

"That's the hardest part, watching them and so, we promise to keep her memory alive," says Morel.

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