Abby will advance to fourth grade as she battles rare form of pancreatitis and gastroparesis

The account for Wildwood Elementary School student Abigail “Abby” Lacayo continues to grow, thanks to overwhelming support from Villagers and area residents.

The account has reached $13,530, donated by 210 people in just 22 days. That money will be used to offset staggering costs Abby’s family will face as she continues her battle with a rare form of pancreatitis and gastroparesis.

Abby Lacayo checks out a gift basket that was delivered by Faye Scher and Elaine Buffen, who both volunteer at the 8-year-old girl’s school, Wildwood Elementary. Scher said several people contributed games and books for the girl who has touched hearts across The Villages.

The 8-year-old Wildwood Elementary student recently was admitted to UF Shands Hospital in Gainesville, where a stent was inserted to relieve some of the pain she’d been facing. But the benefits of that procedure are temporary, so Abby’s parents are facing the daunting task of locating a specialized hospital willing to perform their daughter’s complicated surgery – a procedure that will remove her pancreas and spleen and transplant islet cells into the liver.

“Abby is a very bright girl. She was able to take her year-end test and got a 99 percent. Going to the school was exhausting, but she has missed 9 weeks of school. Taking this test allowed her to progress to fourth grade,” said Villager Faye Scher, who is leading an effort to help the little girl.

Scher and Elaine Buffen, who volunteer at Wildwood Elementary, recently paid a visit to Abby to deliver a gift basket full of stuffed animals, books and games to help keep her busy during her long hours of treatment. Scher said several people contributed to the gift basket by ordering items through Amazon.

“So many people sent adorable gifts for Abby. I put them in a basket. Abby was a bit wobbly, but managed to get up and show delight in opening the gifts,” said Scher, who can be contacted at

Several Villagers have stepped forward to help, including offer medical contacts. Families who have gone through a similar illness are in contact with Abby’s mother. Scher said they have been helpful to the family, offering perspective on the challenges ahead and the hope of recovery.