Salcido family sets up fund in daughter Natalia’s honor

The Salcido family has set up a memorial fund in honor of their daughter, who died May 9 in a car accident.

GILROY—A “bustling” life was cut short on May 9, when the car Natalia Salcido, a Christopher High School sophomore, was riding in struck a tree. She was killed on impact, exactly one week before she was to celebrate her 16th birthday.
Her parents, Andora and Chris Salcido, of Gilroy, don’t want Natalia’s death to be in vain. They want to build and sustain her legacy by helping local underprivileged children and teens experience the activities in which she participated and loved—from theater, music and cheerleading to educational travel.
This week, Andora and Chris launched the Natalia Salcido Legacy Fund, operated through the Gilroy Foundation.
Vehicle safety also will play an important role in the program.
From a concept that emerged shortly after her death, the idea developed into a legacy fund to “give back to kids and teens in the community who may not be able to afford all the privileges she had,” including sports, cheer, camp, educational travel, music, theater and the arts, according to Andora Salcido.
“We wanted to help finance portions of all these different things that she was involved in for kids who probably wouldn’t have the opportunity on their own. We knew that’s what we had to do,” she added.
Natalia was the family’s eldest daughter, and her death left her younger sister Noelle “completely crushed.” They both were actively involved in community service organizations and volunteered their time across the South Bay, Andora said.
Natalia was set to mentor incoming freshmen at Christopher High School and serve on student government at the school. She had participated in junior varsity cheer and was slated to graduate to varsity cheer her junior year.
“She was compassionate and wanted to help other people because she could remember what it was like when she was a freshman. For her, giving back was everything…she always inspired me to be a better mom because of that,” she added.
But with her life cut short in a tragic accident, the Salcido family wants to prolong her legacy by helping others.
Next fall, the legacy fund will begin by helping to financially support those girls who want to be cheerleaders, but don’t necessarily have the nearly $2,000 required to participate each year.
“As an incoming freshman, the sticker shock is there…it’s a lot of money and some girls can’t do it just because of that,” Andora said.
Natalia’s parents will decide annually what the funds will pay for. There will be prerequisites, however.
“Kids will have to have good grades, recommendations and there will be other things. Natalia was an honor student and a hard worker. It wasn’t easy for her to get those grades,” she added. “She was graceful. She knew her strengths and weaknesses and knew she had to work hard to get where she wanted. She wouldn’t back down. She was ambitious and knew what she wanted.”
The Salcido family hopes to grow the legacy fund each year in order to assist more kids on an annual basis.
“Who knows, maybe it will someday parlay into a scholarship fund (to help students pay for college),” Andora said. “Natalia was college-bound. The week after she passed away she was supposed to go to UCLA on a trip…Ultimately, that’s something we’d like to see—it grow in that way and take on a life of its own. We want to keep her name out there.”
Andora said Natalia’s life was taken as a result of “one bad decision,” as was being in the car with a young driver who hadn’t had their license very long.
“I’d like kids to take away from that how precious life is. It sucks Natalia has to serve as a reminder,” she said. “I want kids to know that one bad decision can cost them their lives. It may not, but it could, you never know.”
“We don’t often realize how short life is, even as parents. As a teenager, you think you’re invincible and nothing can happen to you. I think parents have that same mentality, that it happens to other people but it won’t happen to my kids. But you know what? It happened to us; it happened to my Natalia, who is gone in a whisper,” Andora said, fighting back tears.
Community support ‘overwhelming’
In the month since their daughter’s sudden death, the Salcido family has been flooded with support from the Gilroy community, from neighbors, family friends and even strangers, Andora told the Dispatch. The family moved to Gilroy 14 years ago for the sense of community they had growing up in the Bay area.
Our friends, neighbors and people we don’t even know have been coming out of the woodwork. They’re so loving, caring and are really lifting us up; they’re heartbroken for us and I think it has had an impact in terms of people realizing anything can happen to anybody at anytime. Although it’s a sad reminder, these people have been amazing,” she added.
But the void left by Natalia’s passing will be felt for years to come, especially for Natalia’s sister Noelle, 13.
The two were inseparable whether they were volunteering together in the community or just being sisters.
“Noelle is just crushed. She feels like she’s lost her best friend,” Andora said. “She’s also mourning what could have been, like “who is going to be at my graduation? My sister isn’t going to be there.” She’s mourning the future that they planned together as sisters. She’s missing her cheerleader.”
For more information on the Natalia Salcido Legacy Fund, visit the Gilroy Foundation’s website at gilroyfoundation.org or send a tax-deductible donation to Natalia Salcido Legacy Fund, P.O. Box 774, Gilroy, CA 95021.
To make a donation to the Natalia Salcido Legacy Fund online, visit gilroyfoundation.org and click the green “make a donation” button in the upper right hand corner. Then send an email to [email protected] and let know your donation is for the Natalia Salcido Legacy Fund.

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