Fleeing war and persecution, ThuHong Do immigrated to the United States as a refugee from Vietnam, who would later amass more than 30 years of experience as a para-educator at Santa Monica High School.

During her three decades at Samohi, Do gained a reputation as a generous and fun woman who touched the hearts of students, teachers and many community members alike.

Her job was to support special-education students, which is something her peers say she did every day with vibrant energy and a trademark smile, but after retiring last June, Do also began to dedicate her time at a neonatal intensive care unit when she wasn’t busy expanding her charitable work in Vietnam.

Do was also busy volunteering at her neighborhood library in Sawtelle, where she was hit by a car while crossing the street this past December.

The accident resulted in a number of injuries and required her to receive intensive care in Anaheim. In January, Do’s condition was described as fragile and complex, but she has since seen some improvement, which has given her medical team and family the hope for recovery.

Local residents and former coworkers of Do have eagerly donated more than $4,000 to a GoFundMe, which has a goal of $5,000 and was started to help pay for the cost of Do’s care and other expenses.

Do’s niece Xuan Tran took time this week to thank the community for the kind words, donations and love her family has received in the past few months during their trying time.

“It means the world to our family, and I know my aunt will be so moved when she hears of all the support she has received from close friends and strangers who have never met her,” Tran said, mentioning Do is currently in a skilled nursing facility located in Orange County where she recently celebrated her 64th birthday alongside family and loved ones. “Her fractures and brain injuries are healing, and she is now able to speak, move her arms, and eat whole foods, (and) best of all, her funny, stubborn, and caring personality shine through during her moments of alertness.”

Initially, family members didn’t know if Do would recover at all, much less get back to what she was before the accident, but now her many relatives are hopeful she’ll be able to walk again in the next year.

“This happened two months ago, but today she’s walking with a walker relatively unassisted, she’s able to speak the many languages she once did and she’s being cranky, making jokes and all of that,” Tran said. “It’s been great to see all of that personality come back, and we feel very, very lucky. We do believe she will be able to live independently in the future if her therapies go well.”

Tran added she didn’t know how many lives her aunt had previously touched but it’s become apparent throughout the healing process.

“It’s amazing that all these people who we’ve never met or heard of have rallied together to support her, her family and her healing process,” Tran said, mentioning how teachers, mall booth employees and others have reached out to offer a kind word about her aunt. “It’s been amazing and I think it’s definitely contributed to my family’s healing as well my aunt’s so it’s something I personally am so grateful for.”

Local residents who wish to contribute to the Do’s GoFundMe can do so by visiting gofundme.com/f/1vuz17q9dc.

Brennon@smdp.com

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