A child who was diagnosed with Hogdkin’s Lymphoma at the age of 14 was recently granted a wish by The Make a Wish
Foundation to have a family vehicle, which was in an inoperable mechanical and cosmetic condition.
Recently celebrating his 18th birthday, Donato Villareal’s wish was granted right on time.
Last year, his mother Esmeralda Bocanegra, received a call from Make a Wish to inform her that Villareal’s wish was in the process of getting approved.
“It looked like something you would find in a junk yard,” Bocanegra said. “The truck belonged to my grandmother, then my mom, then me…Now it belongs to him.”
According to one of the volunteers from the Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana location, Yvonne Worzel, the truck was essentially a shell.
“It would have been easier to get a new car,” said Worzel. “…but Donato wanted that truck fixed. He lit up like a Christmas tree when he saw it.”
After almost a year of straightening out technicalities, the 1990 Chevy truck was given a complete makeover with structural and mechanical work with a brand new all cherry black paint job about two weeks ago. Bocanegra said Villareal initially attempted to fix the truck himself.
“There was no way he could do it alone. There was so much to be done and we don’t have much to buy parts or anything.” Bocanegra said. “No one expects a blessing like this to come up.”
The lengthiness of the process enabled the family heirloom to be transferred to Villareal’s name and he was able to get his driver’s license.
“We had to go to different locations to get the right parts
Donato Villareal was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when he was just 14 years old. That was 4 years ago. He is currently in remission. When originally asked what he wanted to wish for, Villareal said he wanted to send his little brother to Disneyland. When he found that it was solely a wish for himself he decided to wish for the repair of the truck. While all the kinks were being straightened out to get his wish approved he continued to undergo chemotherapy and radiation.
Despite Villareal’s current condition, and as single mother of two boys, Bocanegra felt overwhelmed at times.
“I couldn’t believe it…I thought,’ Not my child. He’s too young,” Bocanegra said, recalling the day Villareal’s condition was made known.
The family noticed that Donato had begun to act out of character as a young teen. He was constantly fatigued when he is usually all smiles and energy. Local doctors told Bocanegra that Villareal was simply experiencing allergies and should take Benadryl. After Bocanegra saw no improvement in how Villareal felt, he was taken to the Harris County Clinic to possibly be seen by a doctor. With expired Medicaid and nowhere else to turn, Villareal was allowed to see a doctor.
After a variety of tests, abnormalities were discovered, but the clinic did not have the proper equipment to move forward. Villareal was then referred to Lyndon B. Johnson, and finally Hermann.
At Hermann he endured another series of testing where they found a mass that also needed to be tested. Viewing the extent of Villareal’s test result, cases workers helped to get Villareal approved for Medicaid to cover his medical expenses. Case workers also suggested to Bocanegra to contact the Make a Wish Foundation.
According to Bocanegra, Villareal was transferred once again, but this time by ambulance, to M.D Anderson. Finally, he was unexpectedly went from “allergies to cancer”.
She made the call to Make a Wish about two years ago. “We didn’t know about Make a Wish…[the staff] told us about it. I am so thankful that an organization like this exists,” she said.
Today, Villareal has stopped treatments, is in remission, and currently waiting to retest his status. Though he is not 100 percent and will not be until at least a year passes, Villareal now has a full head of hair and is enjoying rolling in his new ride he said.
“I hope to go to Lee College. I don’t know yet what for, but I know I want to go there,” Villareal said. He is currently due to graduate high school this spring.
For more information about the Make A Wish Foundation, visit wish.org or contact the Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana location at 281-491-9474. Donations are also accepted via wish.org.
Information about Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is available at mdanderson.org.