Community rallies around Cape principal, Pine Island teacher
Jennifer Cann and her husband Chris have touched the lives of countless Cape Coral residents and members of the Southwest Florida community.
Now it’s time for the public to help the longtime educators.
“We are very blessed and touched by the generosity,” said Cann, a teacher at Pine Island Elementary School since 2003.
She had a stroke last year in October and, while she was recovering, Chris, had a massive stroke in April.
“You never realize how many people truly care about you until you’re in a time of need,” she said. “Everyone keeps praying for us This benefit is mind boggling.”
On June 9 there will be a fundraiser at Fish Tale Grill at 1229 S.E. 47th Terrace to help raise money for the couple to pay for medical benefits and to cover medical expenses and insurance.
Jennifer Cann’s students have been extremely supportive of both her and her husband, who is a principal at Oasis Elementary School in Cape Coral.
After they found out Chris was in the hospital, Jennifer Cann’s students raised money to get her a Subway gift card so she had something to eat while she was there.
Once they heard her husband had a stroke, Jennifer Cann said their concern went from no longer being worried about themselves to being more concerned with Cann and her husband.
“They were very concerned that I wouldn’t be taking care of myself because I was taking care of him,” she said. “They wanted to make sure I was well taken care of.”
Her students also asked every day how her husband was doing.
They’d say to her: “You tell him I said to keep going and don’t quit.”
Chris Cann was a teacher and an assistant principal at a couple of schools before landing at Oasis Elementary School.
“He’s definitely made an impact on coworkers’ lives and kids’ lives,” Jennifer Cann said.
Since Chris Cann had the stroke, which happened in his sleep, people who know him have been telling Jennifer Cann how much he’s impacted their lives.
“It’s touching, it really is,” she said. “It’s very emotional to hear the amazing things he has done. Kids are also writing him cards.”
Jennifer Cann said her stroke in October 2018 was very minor. She was at work when it happened and she was able to get to the hospital very quickly.
Her recovery process was about three weeks long. She began to slowly return to work and teach half days. After Christmas, Cann began going to work again full-time again.
Chris Cann’s stroke happened on a Sunday morning in April.
Jennifer Cann says his was a lot more severe than hers. His stroke occurred on his right side which affected his left side. Luckily, Chris Cann is right handed.
Chris Cann is currently in the recovery process, and Jennifer Cann says he is doing amazing.
He had to undergo brain surgery for a brain swell and for the past month, he’s been doing physical therapy and learning to walk again.
“He’s just doing great,” she said. “He’s getting stronger every day and he comes home on Monday.”
Chris Cann will continue to do in-home therapy until he’s strong enough to do outpatient therapy.
Every day he asks the doctor when he can get his notes and return to work.
“He really wants to get back to work,” Jennifer Cann said. “That’s his main motivation.”
Both Jennifer and Chris Cann plan on attending the fundraiser.
Tickets for the fundraiser at Fish Tale Grill are $25 per person. They must be purchased in advance at the restaurant or at Merrick Seafood.
There will be three all-you-can-eat buffets.
The brunch buffet is from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., and then there is another one from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; the lunch buffet starts at 1 p.m. and ends at 2:30 p.m.
There will also be live music by Ricky Reinoso and Barbara Dexter.
Attendees can look forward to food options like bacon, sausage, eggs, biscuits and gravy, chicken marsala, paella, beef brisket, penne ala vodka, country ham and a full dessert table.
Dexter plays 1960s, ’70s and ’80s music, while Reinoso does everything from reggae to hip hop.
There will also be raffle baskets and a silent auction.
Some raffle prizes include a fishing charter, two passes to Disney World, a two-night Marriott Hotel stay, a Naples Bay Resort boat rental with fuel, a wine gift basket, and gift cards to area restaurants.
“Chris is very set on going to the fundraiser,” Jennifer Cann said. “He just cannot wait to meet them and thank all of the people who are going to be there.”
Jennifer is not sure how long he will be able to stay, but the goal is for him to show up at some point.
She plans on taking his first week back home slow to see how he transfers in and out of the car, “and things like that.”
After Jennifer Cann returned to work, her students were very excited to have her back.
But it’s not just her students showing her the love.
“It’s their parents, grandparents, other teachers and also the students,” she said. “It’s the whole Pine Island Elementary School way.”
Jennifer Cann said her husband’s school has a similar mentality.
“Just the family feel they have that they all pitch in and they really care,” she said.
“I’ve never been at the receiving end. And it is just so humbling to feel that love and kindness from so many people.”