When Nevada’s Green Valley High School held its winter sports award banquet last week, Seattle-based food safety law firm Marler Clark was there to announce a donation of $100,000 to the Henderson-based school.
The donation was made in honor of Green Valley’s former teaching assistant, E. coli victim Linda Rivera, and her family.
In 2009, after consuming Nestlé brand cookie dough, Mrs. Rivera contracted a near-lethal E. coli O157:H7 infection and has been in hospitals and rehabilitation centers ever since.
During Mrs. Rivera’s long convalescence, two of her six children graduated from Green Valley High School; she was too ill to attend their commencement ceremonies.
But Green Valley High and the Henderson community have rallied around Mrs. Rivera, cooking meals, doing yard work and helping with whatever was needed to assist the family through its ordeal. Last week, the school’s award’s assembly was another sort of rally — more than 400 people, with cheerleaders and the marching band — to further show its support for the entire Rivera family.
Marler Clark managing partner Bill Marler, who represents Rivera, said the donation to the school will provide science scholarships and help fund the wrestling program and special education.
“I am extremely proud to be part of such an event and, even more so, honored to work with a family as courageous as the Riveras,” said Marler. “Linda’s battle with E. coli has certainly been one of the most devastating I’ve ever witnessed in my nearly 20 years of foodborne illness litigation and I know the Riveras are simply overjoyed to see something positive come from this experience.”
Though the past two years have been exceptionally difficult for the Riveras, Marler hopes that some good will come from the donation for both the family and the community that has supported them.
“We are hopeful that a portion of these funds will help to encourage young people to study science at a higher level to one day help improve food safety in the U.S. and around the world,” said Marler.
Further, he said, Linda’s sons have had to endure the long, frightening experience of their mother’s illness. The school’s wrestling program helped them to cope and focus “so we are pleased that some of this money will go on to leave an indelible footprint on something the boys were passionate about – wrestling.”