Vista LA Interview (1999)....Mario's story
My name is Angelita Rovero and I'm an ordinary person just trying to make my life as fulfilling as possible like others throughout the world. I am a wife, a mother of 2 small children, a full-time social studies teacher, a part-time college instructor, and a full-time community advocate. I have been heavily involved in advocating for people battling cancer since 1996 and decided adding a blog on this site a perfect way to document my experiences with helping strangers who have become like family to me. Please click on the Blog link, or go to www.wishuponanangel.blogspot.com, to read about the stories of LA. County Sheriff Sergeant Syliva Smith, 5 year-old Mario Molina, 20 year-old Jorge Arias, and most recently, 15-year old Kyle Rodas, and how they have changed my life forever. All have passed on, but I carry a piece of each and every one of them in my heart. Mario and Kyle give me the will to continue to help others and this is my way of paying tribute to them.........
Mario Molina, My Angel Kyle Rodas, My Hero
Mario Molina, Jr. was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 2 years old in 1996. He battled cancer for 3 years. I took it upon myself to organize bone marrow drives throughout Southern California in predominate Latino communities. Bone marrow matches must have the same DNA compatibility, and because Latinos are low in donors, I would organize press conferences and educational workshops and explain in detail the importance of becoming a possible donor on the National Marrow Donors registry. Everyone who registers is on the registry until the age of 65 and must be willing to donate bone marrow to anyone in need, nationwide. That is where the problem arose for Mario....
Two potential donors were found and were notified they matched a boy in need of a transplant, and neither donor stepped forward to donate their bone marrow to him. We were crushed! How could people register on a national registry and then deny the donation? Later, Mario received his marrow transplant from an "almost" perfect match. Unfortunately, due to complications, he passed at the age of 5 in 1999.
This foundation was created with his memory as the driving force. I did everything I could to find a marrow match to save his life. I did not work for any company or health care system, I was a volunteer.... and then I met Mario, and my life completely changed. I can still feel the heartache and pain as if it happened today. My mother always says Mario must have been my son in another life! How could I feel completely devastated and not be related to him? He was that exceptional that he made a true connection with all of those that knew him.
When Mario passed, the National Marrow Donor Program asked me to come work for them full time. I accepted. However, that position was short lived and found that I made a much more profound impact at a volunteer than an employee.
I want to thank the Molina family for allowing me to share his story and be a part of their lives. I want to honor his life, friendship, and love that touched so many people who tried to save his life. I dedicate this foundation to him to keep his memory alive. Mario always said that I was his "girlfriend" and he will forever be the first love of my life.
I met Kyle in 1999 when he was 3 years old and diagnosed with leukemia. I would organize bone marrow drives for the National Marrow Donor Program throughout Southern California, in honor of Kyle. I remember when I first met Kyle, he was extremely active and always spoke his mind! Kyle was absolutely darling! Kyle's smile was captivating and he would always make you laugh! Marty and Oscar made it a point to attend every bone marrow drive and made sure Kyle did also. It was very powerful listening to potential donors expressing how they hoped to be a match for Kyle or for anyone in need of a bone marrow transplant.
Unfortunately, we never found a match for Kyle. Time passed and Kyle's parents and I lost touch for 10 years. Then, I received a phone call from Marty, she always had an amazing spirit about her, but I knew something was wrong. Now in 2011, Kyle was 14 and diagnosed with brain cancer. I didn't know how to help or had any clue how to respond, so I offered love and support and once again I remained by Kyle's side. I asked Marty what can I do for him, how can I help?? I wanted to give Kyle some joy, because there was no way to change his fate. I asked Marty what he wanted to do? I tried to grant him is wish for a trip to Disneyworld, but by that time he would need a medical transport and time was not on our side. I then asked Marty who Kyle would like to meet?
There are many organizations which are overwhelmed with wish requests but have strict policies: "One Child, One Wish." Kyle Rodas, for instance, was granted a wish when he was battling leukemia at the age of 3. Therefore, when he was diagnosed with brain cancer at 14, no other wish organization would consider him. His family and I completely understood the situation, and that is why I personally took the initiative to make his wishes come true by any means possible.
Kyle met his favorite celebrities; Steve Perry from Journey, George López, Chester Bennington and Rob Bourden from Linkin Park, Ozomatli, Danny Trejo and world middleweight boxing champion, Sergio Martínez. Ozzy Osborne and Bllie Joe Armstrong from Greenday offered much appreciated words of encouragement in phone conversations with Kyle. It is amazing what a laptop, a cellphone, and determination can help you accomplish. For me, this helped make Kyle"s dreams a reality before he died at the young age of 15 in 2011.