By Ken Sain, Editor-in-chief
Life was looking for Vanessa Lopez Delgado. She had just bought a new home for her family and landed what she called her “dream job” teaching dance at Seton Catholic Preparatory.
The 42-year-old woman died on December 9, one of more than 23,000 people in Arizona to succumb to COVID-19.
âDancing was a way for her to express herself,â said Jessica Morel, Delgado’s cousin. âShe has had a passion for dance for many, many years. “
Morel said Delgado wanted to get the shot to protect herself, but was unable to because of lung disease. This condition worsened after she moved into a new home.
After moving into the house and moving her refrigerator, she discovered mold that was not disclosed when purchasing the house. They checked with previous occupants and owners and learned they were aware of the mold, but did not disclose it.
âIt worsened his condition,â Morel said. âIt makes us frustrated and angry that this may have been a contributing factor. “
Delgado started feeling sick a week before Thanksgiving. She went to the hospital on the Monday before Thanksgiving. She went on a ventilator on Thanksgiving Day.
âIt was the last time either of us spoke to him,â Morel said.
Delgado was in his first year at Seton Catholic. Prior to that, she had taught English at Gilbert High School, where she graduated. Prior to that, she worked in the Tempe Union School District. She also taught dance at Chandler-Gilbert Community College and was a graduate of Arizona State University.
âEveryone is still in shock,â said Victor Serna, director of Seton Catholic. âWe go through the grieving process and do our best to support our students and staff. We pray for his soul and his family, especially his two young daughters. “
Serna said they could tell Delgado was a special person from the start.
âAfter a few interviews, we could tell that she would not only be an excellent fine arts teacher for us, but also a future leader on campus. That’s why we did it a department director.
âIt will be a huge loss for the community and her family,â Serna said.
Delgado had a lasting impact during his time in Gilbert. She founded the school’s hip-hop dance team, The 1101. She also led the campaign to change the name of the road next to the school to Gilbert Tiger Drive.
Delgado also started his own business, a graphic design company.
Morel said they were not sure how she contracted COVID, saying her cousin was always very careful.
âAs the oldest of seven siblings, she made sure everyone took this seriously,â Morel said.
Delgado is survived by his two daughters, aged 13 and 11. A GoFundMe page was created by Morel to help with funeral expenses and create a trust fund for the two children. Her daughters now live with their father in Gilbert.
A celebration of Delgado’s life is scheduled for December 27 in Mesa.
Morel said Delgado loved to dance and tried to share this passion with others. She volunteered to work in centers for the elderly, helping them get up and move. Delgado’s cousin said she was self-taught. This is why it was important for her to make sure that others had the chance to dance.
âShe thought it was a timeless way of expressing herself,â Morel said.
How to help
A GoFundMe page has been created for Vanessa Lopez Delgado’s two children. Visit GoFundMe.com and search for its name.
Read more stories like ‘COVID claims life of beloved Seton teacher, 42’ on: santansun.com