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Vallejo’s 10-Year-Old ‘Wonder Girl’ Inspires City After Battling Cancer

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10-year-old Monika Romo, a cancer patient, speaks with reporters at Pennycook Elementary School in Vallejo, December 19, 2013. (CBS)

10-year-old Monika Romo, a cancer patient, speaks with reporters at Pennycook Elementary School in Vallejo, December 19, 2013. (CBS)

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VALLEJO (CBS SF) — The City of Vallejo awarded “Wonder Girl,” a 10-year-old battling cancer, with a key to the city Thursday for her strength and ability to bring the community together.

Monika Romo visited schools and other institutions throughout the morning Thursday as part of a special day organized by her family and Supporting Our Cancer Kids, a Solano County support organization for children with cancer, as well as the community group Vallejo Together.

Her mother, Alejandra Romo, said Monika was diagnosed earlier this year with leukemia. The cancer went into remission in June, but she will continue chemotherapy for the next couple of years. Events Thursday were designed to take her mind off of all of that.

She started the morning at Pennycook Elementary School and then headed to Vallejo High School. She visited Vallejo City Hall and the California Maritime Academy before returning to Pennycook Elementary for a noontime event with Hogan Middle School students. During the appearances she was sharing her ideas on how to protect the city and how she has transformed into a superhero throughout her battle with cancer.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Monika of the outpouring of support she saw Thursday. “I think it’s really nice that people would do something like this.”

The special events for Monika come after last month’s “Batkid” phenomenon, in which thousands of people came out in San Francisco in support of 5-year-old Miles Scott, a leukemia survivor who was dressed up as the caped crusader and fought costumed villains in events set up by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“It’s like Batkid, but it’s awesome because it’s in our hometown and it’s just fun,” said classmate Clark Hernandez. “If it’s going to be anybody, it has to be Monika because she’s the best.”

Unlike BatKid, she didn’t take any villains off the streets. Instead she brought hope to the community.

“I hope it makes her grow…it makes her see that, when people get together, good things happen,” said Alejandra Romo.

Maria Guevara, an organizer with Vallejo Together, said Thursday is about including all generations of Vallejo in the discussion of strengthening their community.

“This is just a little taste of how beautiful Vallejo is,” said Guevara. “The city comes together like no other city can. You ask and you receive, and everyone wants to support.”

Monika was awarded a key to the city from the city manager for her courage. She had no idea that the event was taking place, and had simply been told she’d won an essay contest on how a superhero could save Vallejo.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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