Red Wing, Minn. (KTTC) – A group of third graders presented a Goodhue County family with a heartwarming serenade of Christmas carols Tuesday morning.
They brought smiles and tears of joy to the grieving family of their former teacher Kiley Winberg. She taught second grade at Cannon Falls Elementary for six years. Last Friday, she lost her battle with breast cancer at age 30.
“It’s overwhelming in a positive way just the amount of support,” said Jordan Winberg, Kiley’s husband. “The reality is when you lose someone you love, there are so many things that just happen so fast you really don’t even have time to sit down and take it in.”
They were high school sweethearts. She was the light in his life.
“She was probably the sweetest most nicest person I’ve ever met,” Winberg said.
Chris Reich, Kiley’s mother, says she always put others before herself, regardless of what the situation was or how she was feeling.
“She was great all the way up to the end, cracking jokes with us,” Reich said.
Reich explains Winberg did a self-exam in 2017 and discovered a mass. She then went to a clinic in Red Wing and was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. Winberg eventually transferred to Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
“She had treatments and surgery and we were told that they got it all. Cancer free. And then school started, and she ran a temp one day. She went in [to the hospital] and did an x-ray. That’s when they found cancer had spread to her lungs and lymph nodes by her sternum. At that point, we found out it was terminal.”
Those closest to her say she remained strong.
“She was courageous and she uplifted people through this battle. And showed us how to tackle anything,” said Jennifer Chappius, principal of Cannon Falls Elementary. “She advocated for students like no other person I’ve ever seen. She was a principal’s dream really.”
“Teaching was passion, first and foremost,” said Bryan Reich, Kiley’s father. “She loved doing her job, filling in, and coaching. The kids were her inspiration and drive.”
In her final moments on earth, it was never goodbye.
“We said ‘see you later alligator, after a while crocodile,'” said Reich.
There’s a cancer benefit for Kiley Winberg Saturday, January 19 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Elk’s Lodge in Red Wing. There will be a silent auction, raffle, and live auction.
The family also has a GoFundMe set-up to help pay for medical and funeral costs.