Pasco County teacher taken by COVID-19 remembered for her love for all things fall

For Renee Dermott, it was always the little things that lit up her spirit.

"Big, grand things didn't necessarily make her the happiest. She loved little, small things, like little pumpkin patches, and cozy little bridges, and having a hot cocoa with your family at fall," Dermott's daughter, Madalyn Ziongas explained.

Those are the memories Ziongas grew up with, but any chance to make new ones was cut short this summer. Renee died of cardiac arrest after testing positive and battling COVID-19 three months ago.

"Every fall season will forever be a hard season for us," Ziongas said.

So this weekend, they’re transforming her yard into a pumpkin patch and inviting the community out to enjoy it.

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"It's a good tribute to her, but to be able to give back to her kids, who she was really, really passionate about, it's a double-whammy," Ziongas said. "We're going to purchase 300 pumpkins for each child to pick out one, have an iced hot cocoa bar, and we're going to have a couple of games for the kids."

Ziongas and her father, John, Renee’s husband of 26 years, are also setting up a 1970s Ford pickup truck with hay bales and pumpkins so parents can snap a photo to remember the day.

"For some cute photo-ops, you know moms love to have their photo-ops!” Ziongas said.

They’re asking for donations to help cover the costs of the pumpkins – a minimum donation of $7 – and the remaining money will be donated to Renee’s school.

"This would make her happy - not only is it a nice tribute to her, but it's kind of therapeutic for our family,” Ziongas said.

The pumpkin patch will take place Saturday, October 17 from 12 to 6 p.m. at their New Port Richey home, 7519 Katherine Drive.