This isn't really a story about San Benito High. "It gives me great pleasure to say congratulations... to the school," Action 4's Ryan Wolf said in front of a group. But it is a story about one of the school's finest. The office has been transformed into a surprise Pay it 4Ward party for one of their own. However, Perla Ortega, the honoree, is purposefully out of the loop. "Who wants to know the real reason why I'm here?" Ryan asked the group. "We do," dozens of district workers said. Everyone in the room is playing along, until the surprise is finally revealed. "I'm here for Perla," Ryan said as he pointed her out in the room. It TMs a shocking reality for her. "Oh my God," she said. Jennifer Winton has worked with Perla as a teacher for the last 22 years. She nominated her for the Pay it 4Ward prize on behalf of the entire district. "I'm just amazed how no matter what happens or how stressful it gets you're always calm," Jennifer said to Perla in the room. "You answer my questions for the 15th time. No matter what you're doing you stop what you're doing and you're always there to help me with anything. And believe me; I come visit her a lot. On behalf of FNB Insurance and Action 4 News, I'd like to give you $400 to Pay it 4Ward." "I think I have to sit down," Perla said while holding her chest. "Don't faint on me right now," Ryan said. "Are you okay? We do have a defibrillator nearby, right?" Perla says it's not the money that has her chocked up, rather the gesture of love from people whom she calls her second family. "I'm just totally overwhelmed, really," she said. "I really don't know what to say. Just thank you everybody. Thank you from the bottom of my heart." Karen Gonzalez with FNB Insurance awarded the $400 as Action 4's weekly Pay it 4Ward partner. "It's nice to meet somebody who's so sweet and humble and special to so many people," FNB Insurance Agency's spokesperson said. "So congratulations, you deserve it." It TMs a sentiment shared by everyone in the room, including San Benito CISD's Assistant Superintendent Celeste Sanchez. "Whenever you talk to somebody, she's the one to talk too," she explained. "She's very friendly, she's very understanding, she listens and she knows her job well." But this nomination has very little to do with her work and more to do with the effort she puts forth daily to make people feel special. Jennifer says her unfailing niceness proves you don't have to be rich to be rich at heart. A simple smile goes a long way, she said. Perla TMs always positive. "What are you going to do with the money?" Ryan asked. "I don't know," Perla said. "FNB Insurance and Action 4 News want to thank you for being you," Ryan added. "Thank you," she said. Turns out a daily smile really can be rewarding when you, "Pay it 4Ward."
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