About Us

The Alvarez Family

For 12-year-old Manuel Alvarez, one of the "coolest things" he has done with his PADRES family is spend Christmas at the TELEMUNDO Channel 52 news station where he met the newscasters and had a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of a television station.

"I got to see how they make the news and even went on stage with the newscasters," recalls Manuel. "That was really cool."

The exuberant 7th-grader, who lives in Pico Rivera with his mom Yolanda, stepfather Jesus, and two sisters Jessie and Nancy, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2004. After bravely enduring brain surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, Manuel has been cancer-free for the last two months.

Having been in the hospital most of the year, Manuel is now cherishing being back in school with his friends. He is especially enjoying his woodshop class where he has diligently been working on a model chair for his mom’s room.

His family joined PADRES soon after Manuel was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was an extremely difficult time for the family who was not only dealing with the devastating effects of cancer, but also was delivered another blow when Manuel’s step-dad lost his job on a demolition crew.

"It felt like our world was tumbling down," recalls Manuel’s mom, Yolanda. "But we would go into the PADRES office and there was always somebody there to listen and to help."

Recognizing the immense healing power of laughter and play, PADRES has provided Manuel and his family not only much needed support, but also an opportunity for respite from the hospital environment by providing toys for Christmas, tickets to amusement parks and a chance to celebrate the holidays with other PADRES families.

"We were in the hospital for weeks at a time and being a part of the PADRES events and celebrations helped us not be so sad all time," says Yolanda.

In the last few months, life has taken a positive turn for Manuel and his family. The middle schooler is cancer-free, his step-dad is back to work and his mom has found a new job as an account manager for a warehouse.

Being surrounded by love and encouragement as he was fighting his battle against cancer has inspired this soft-spoken young man to become a child-life specialist when he grows up.

"I want to help kids not be scared," he says.