After moving to Mexico to go through a process of learning to love myself again and to accomplish a personal goal, I met two amazing people who forever changed my life. Shortly after arriving I was wondering if I had made the right decision and was missing a young man who has been a source of inspiration and love--my little brother, Kavin.
On my way to an appointment the other day I passed a mother selling bracelets. She was holding a young man wrapped in a blanket. Not caring if I was late I turned around and bought several bracelets.
As we move through the world it is easy to assume about situations we see, but I’ve learned that it is not until we stop and listen to one’s story that we can really understand the struggle of another.
After our chance encounter, the mother and her son stayed in my mind. A second time I passed them but this time it was different. I was not going to just walk past. I took a seat next to them and asked her to tell me their story. A small shop owner nearby saw me struggling to communicate and offered to help.
On a hot summer day I listened to a mother share her story of love for her son. You see I am blessed. I have a mother who has had three very challenging children, each in their own way, and have seen her commitment and love. It was this very same look that I saw her give her own son as she quietly talked about her struggles and commitment. Like my younger brother who has taught me about love, life and strength, this boy too has cerebral palsy. I learned that this mother has been carrying her son for his entire life, that she struggles to put food on the table so buying a wheelchair is not possible, that he needs medical care but she can’t get to the doctor and that what little money she has she gets from making and selling bracelets in the morning before it gets too hot. She once saved enough money so her son could try physical therapy only to find the therapist wasn’t licensed and caused more damage.
On an ordinary day my reason for being in Mexico suddenly took an unexpected turn. It was like the universe knew how much we needed each other. I had just learned that Kavin has outgrown his wheelchair and is about to get a new one. Would he be willing to pass his chair on to a deserving young man in Mexico?
I asked what she needed and the shopkeeper quietly said that Manuel's mother is shy, struggles to ask for help and needs an advocate. What she doesn’t know is that I’m anything but shy, not afraid to ask for help and I love advocating for those in need.
So where does this leave us? I learned that Manuel is about to turn 15. He has never had a birthday party, loves the movie Cars, needs a wheelchair, medical care and is never afraid to give hugs and lots of love.
While I don't mind asking for help, I try not to do it often. But this time seems different. It's personal. I feel drawn to help this boy and his mother. I am surrounded by compassionate, loving and giving friends and family. I would love to give Manuel an unforgettable birthday party. He is going to love it!
The money raised will go towards the following:
The shipping and retrofitting of Kavin’s outgrown wheelchair. The chair provides an opportunity for Manuel to have the freedom he needs and allows his mom to push her son instead of carrying him ($1,500)
A Kindle loaded with cartoons and Car movies ($300)
Six months of much needed physical therapy appointments twice a week at a certified facility with a licensed physical therapist ($1,920)
Five trips to Guadalajara to see a specialist and costs for food, hotel and the car rental. The specialists that Manuel needs are located in Guadalajara ($1,000)
Medicine and home care supplies such as a new mattress and a tub to take a bath (he is afraid of showers) so that he can be treated properly and be able to be comfortable at home. Unfortunately, he has some immediate needs that can be fixed with the right medicines and some small but significant changes at home ($2,000)
A proper birthday party for a 15 year-old. The celebration will be his first birthday party ever and will be themed his favorite movie, Cars! ($500)
A day at Vallarta Adventures to swim with dolphins. For the past 14 years he has been with his mom selling her bracelets. Together they can be in the water and have a day off ($750)
A caregiver allowance for his mother so that when she is with Manuel at his doctor and physical therapy appointments she can still provide food and a roof over their heads ($1,800)
The remainder of the money will be used for a series of surgeries for Manuel that he will need to fix issues with his legs. The cost is to be determined and will be based on the appointments with the specialists. I’ll provide updates after doctor appointments (any additional money raised)
As you can imagine I am overwhelmed but confident a difference can be made in Manuel’s life. Many of the exact costs of the wish list will be established once I help the family find proper medical care. I will keep everyone updated with video diaries of this journey and his wish list.
Some of you may ask why I doing this. Before I walked away, Manuel's mom thanked me for stopping. I told her that I was the thankful one. I am doing this because I need this as badly as they do and feel grateful to help a young man who reminds me so much of someone who has done so much for me.
I am blessed and I ask that instead of buying that coffee today, you join me in helping this family. As a token of our appreciation for your help, I've asked Manuel's mom if he can sign thank you cards and she can make bracelets.
If you have ever been touched by someone who has so little to say but so much to give, I ask you to help me give Manuel the best birthday EVER.
- Anna Balta
- Ryan Hedquist
- Rebecca Stevens
- Anthony Polimeni
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