Emilio Nares was just 5-years-old when he died following a two-year battle with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). His parents, Richard and Diane, collected the pain they felt over the loss of their only child and channeled it into building a foundation to help other sick children and honor their son’s memory.
The Nares sat by their son during chemotherapy and met other parents and families who were facing the same hardships of this devastating disease. While cancer itself is a monumental challenge, the Nares discovered that many of these families had struggles that worsened the fight. Richard told Fox News about one mom who had to wake up at 4:00 a.m., take five buses and then walk a 1/4 mile from the bus stop to the hospital with her 2-year-old child for his cancer treatment. They would have to do it all over again just to get home after a long, painful day of chemotherapy.
“This is unacceptable,” Richard told Fox News. “Their battle cannot start until they get to the hospital.”
Richard and Diane found many couples didn’t have easy transportation to and from the hospital so they had to rely on public transportation which is not optimal for sick children with compromised immune systems. To address this problem the husband and wife duo created the non-profit Emilio Nares Foundation (ENF), whose flagship program, the Ride With Emilio campaign, provides 4,100 free van rides annually to low-income families in the Southern California region.
Beyond the van rides, ENF created Loving Tabs Healing T-Shirts. These shirts have buttons along the left shoulder that, when open, leave easy access for doctors to get to the child’s permanent chest catheter that administers the chemotherapy. Kids normally have to lift up their shirt or remove it, which Richard and Diane found can be stressful and scary for a young child. This shirt helps reduce that anxiety and allows the child to keep their dignity.
Richard and Diane fund the foundation through grants and donations. Their hope is to expand ENF beyond Southern California so they can help as many families as possible.
For more information on how you can help, visit ENFHope.org.