Santiago Family Charity Fund

                             By Sofia Santiago 7th grader

" Usually, at our age, we are asked who our role models are, who do we look up to? That is not such a difficult question to answer. A role model is someone who influences or guides you when making right decisions. On the other hand, to call someone a hero takes much more reflecting and analyzing. A hero is someone who saves lives, rescues those in danger or prevent human tragedy. My personal description of a hero is my mother. It is common for mothers to be placed in that category but my mother is a hero for reasons that most of us do not see everyday. She has saved the lives of my family without being aware of it.

As a twelve year old girl, I define a hero to be trustworthy, help others, put other people before themselves and that describes my mother. My mother sacrificed things to make my life better and I want to thank her for that. Throughout my life I have always seen my mother struggle but it showed me how to be strong. It has shown me that no matter what, the struggle is worth more than the prize.

A hero does not expect a prize, a reward or to be honored. The following event, and its results, validate what makes my mother a hero more than her personality itself. On March 22, 2009, a young man woke up early one morning to start his usual duties as a plumber. He had two small children and a wife. As he crossed the street towards his truck, an unknown driver sped through the street, carelessly hitting the man at a high speed. The results were tragic.

The impact was so intense that it caused permanent brain damage, a prosthetic skull, a shattered leg and worst of all, a complete loss of his memory. After waking up from a two month coma, he had no recollection of anything that had to do with his life at the time of the accident. Lucky for him, a hero was at arm’s reach. His wife spent every single day making sure that he would, not only survive, but recover to the best of his capacity. She would play their favorite love songs and read him the newspaper every day.

After many years of rehabilitation, determination, and most importantly, prayer and love, his wife was able to help him learn how to speak, read, write and walk again. She spends her days showing him pictures of what used to be. Today, he is independent enough to help his children with homework, help at home, and do some plumbing. Most importantly, he is happy to be alive. This man is my father.

Many might consider this a love story from a novel, but I see it more as a story of survival, strength, commitment, and endurance. My dad thanks my mom every day with humor, loyalty, and love. When he gets the chance he always tells his children, as they sit together on the couch, “She’s the reason we’re here.” It is exactly what a survivor would say about his or her hero.

I know many mothers will go above and beyond for their families, especially their children. My mother made leaps and bounds, attacked obstacles, sustained pain, and suffering and lifted her family out of harm’s way, just like any hero would.

My brother and I have conversations with my mother all the time. For this specific assignment I asked her, what does she consider a hero to be. My mother did not give a list of internal or external characteristics of what a hero is. We told her that she was our hero. Ironically, instead of her going over the story and all of the unforgettable details from our life changing experience, she always says, “Your father, is my hero.” just like a hero would say."


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Anthony Santiago was a vibrant, hard working plumber and father of two at the young age of 24 when on Sunday March 22, 2009, Anthony was struck by a drunk driver that left him for dead. This tragic accident resulted in a 5 week coma, bleeding in the brain, brain swelling and permanent brain damage. The impact also broke his left femur (left thigh) bone crushed, to the point where orthopedic surgeons had to insert a metal rod in order to simulate a thigh bone. The left side of his skull had to be removed and couldn't be preserved due to chronic infections in his lungs. They performed a cranioplastic surgery to replace the skull. He also developed hydrocephalus which delayed his response, cognitive abilities, among other things. He was sent to a great rehabilitation center but it was not enough. When he went home, we all knew there was a long road ahead.

As a family, we did not ask for help in the beginning of this ordeal because its not what Anthony would have wanted. We are in dire need of financial help because Anthony's health is now regressing physically, emotionally and mentally. Due to lack of income we have fallen into such debt that we can barely survive on my New York City teaching salary. We need everyones help in order to get back on our feet, keep our apartment, get Anthony the help that he needs and provide for our children.

  He is currently dealing with a bad vascular wound that may need extensive surgery and follow up therapy. Thank you for reading our story.  We love our community. 

Donations

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  • Christopher Fuller 
    • $100 
    • 24 mos
  • Amy Bergtold 
    • $150 
    • 24 mos
  • Lillian Rivera 
    • $300 
    • 37 mos
  • Johanna Espinal 
    • $50 
    • 39 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 39 mos
See all

Organizer

Maria Urena 
Organizer
New York, NY
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