Southwest ISD students raise money for classmate recovering from severe burns

SWISD’s communications director said Rocket Fest raised $5,000 for the Rutledge family

SAN ANTONIO – A school tradition was used to turn tragedy into hope.

Marcus Rutledge, 14, was left with severe burns to over 85% of his body after an accident in the kitchen over the holidays.

His parents say he was joking and playing around in the kitchen moments before tragedy struck.

“He did a handstand, and he lost balance, so his feet went forward on the counter, and it hit the pot, and it just fell with the hot oil on him,” said Rutledge’s mother, Corina Govea

Rutledge spent Christmas and the last month in the hospital. He’s had 15 procedures and skin grafts, with the possibility of more to come.

“I’ve heard him scream and cry as they change his dressings,” said Govea.

His father, Marcus Rutledge Sr. added, “through the night, it’s very painful for him, he’s tossing, and he can’t really turn.”

When his classmates heard what had happened, they wanted to help. Student council decided that a McAuliffe middle school tradition, Rocket Fest, should go to raising funds for Rutledge and not end-of-year activities.

“It was really easy no one really thought about it. Everyone just said [give] the money to Marcus,” said an 8th-grade classmate.

“Here, like everybody is family, so we want to help everybody make sure everybody is okay, " said a 6th grader on the student council.

Rutledge’s parents say although recovery has been tough, their son has remained in good spirits. They add he’s continued to have that playful joking mentality that his classmates have come to expect.

“He was a really funny person. He would make a lot of bad jokes, but he was just a really funny person to be around. He would always lighten up the mood,” said one of his classmates.

Marcus’ parents say he was finally released from the hospital late Friday evening. He’ll be able to continue his recovery at home, and they hope he’ll fully recover in a year.

SWISD’s Communications Director, Jenny Sungia Collier, says Rocket Fest raised $5,000 for the Rutledge family.

About the Author:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.