The Luena Foundation

On March 3, 2018 we had a sleep-over party at our house with three of our kids’ friends. We made homemade pizza, ate popcorn, danced to crazy music, watched the movie CoCo and had the kids all tucked into to bed shortly after midnight.

Emily and I were drifting off to sleep when our son and his friend rushed into our room to tell us that Luena, the 11 year-old daughter of two of our closest friends and one of the children staying at our house, had suddenly sat up in bed and was complaining of a bad headache. 

We immediately knew that something was wrong when,  five minutes later, Luena became completely unresponsive. We quickly got her into an ambulance and she was taken to Ronda and then onto the Children’s Hospital in Malaga.

While we initially thought that Luena had suffered from an epileptic attack, we found out later that morning that things were actually much worse... she had been diagnosed with a massive brain hemorrhage/stroke near her brain stem, the part of the brain that controls practically everything. 

After being in a coma 8 days, this sweet little girl passed away at 3:30pm on Sunday, March 11, 2018. She was surrounded by her entire family.

We are in the process of setting up a foundation in Luena’s name so that her legacy of love will never be forgotten. This Go Fund Me initiative will be directly connected to the foundation that is being created and is the first step in making sure that Luena's loving spirit will live forever.  The Luena Foundation will be used as an instrument to help underprivileged children throughout the world.


There is no doubt in our minds that that all of us are interconnected.  Luena's story continues... Despite the fact that Luena's parents were paralyzed by their grief, they mustered all their strength and made the selfless decision to donate their daughter's organs to five other children throughout Spain, including to an eight-year old boy who would have died within days if it were not for the gift of their little girl's heart.  

The funeral for Luena was held this past Monday in our small town of El Gastor, Spain and over 1,000 people attended. When Luena’s Aunt, Aurelia, read about about the impact Luena has had on all of our lives and the countless hearts she had touched, tears streamed from my eyes. Elias and Estrella, Luena's parents, carried our entire town’s sadness on their shoulders and they never flinched nor asked what could be done for themselves. These days, the world in which we live seems to only focus on the negatives, but over the past two weeks, Emily and I saw the resolve of the human spirit as two people walked through the depths of hell with grace, dignity and hope.

Estrella and Elias, Emily and I are honored to be your friends.  You should be proud as you are wonderful parents and role models and your children are an extension of your love and guidance. While your pain will never go away, we pray that together, we can be a beacon of light and love to those needy children who will benefit from the foundation that we are creating. 

Luena, Emily and I have traveled all over the world and have met many interesting people and have seen things beyond our wildest dreams, but our greatest honor has been to know you and your beautiful family.  On the way to the hospital on Sunday, Emily and I saw an amazing rainbow that soared from one end of the sky to the other. We have never seen anything so majestic and at that point, we knew that this was not a rainbow, but your beautiful smile shining down from above.

This is not the end our dear friend, but is only just the beginning. I promise you that through your foundation, we will save other lives and provide hope, love and peace to a plethora of children. Your rainbow will shine bright and will guide us forever.

El sol no se cansa de abrazarnos, no nos cansemos nosotros de sostener la vida que empieza sobre nuestras  espaldas y nuestro corazón; Te invita a seguir luchando por ellos desde la fidelidad del día a día y el brillo de sus  tiernos ojos!

We will continue to fight for you Luena, and you will continue to live on through all of us.  We will never forget your smile, your beautiful hair, your infectious spirit, your motherly instincts, your positive energy and most of all, the love you passed on to everyone around you.


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