SAN ANTONIO – May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month and the nonprofit Gabriella’s Smile Foundation, along with a family who turned their tragedy into an amazing cause are both aimed at helping families in and around San Antonio.
“It’s a very difficult journey, but one that we are just looking forward to, to make a difference in other families lives,” Isabel Torres said.
The Gabriella’s Smile Foundation was created on March 30, 2016, in honor of Cecilio and Isabel’s six year-old daughter Gabriella, who passed away.
“The first day they told us she looks like she has a brain stem tumor. And then the following day, they told us that she did, in fact, have this cancer called DIPG. And they did tell us that she likely would not survive the year. And they gave us a very grim terminal prognosis that she will probably live about 8 to 12 months,” Cecilio Torres said.
No parent ever plans to hear the words, “your child has incurable brain cancer”.
“She battled for about almost eight months, that terminal form of brain cancer. The tumor is commonly referred to as DIPG. And it stands for a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. It’s just a fancy word for a brain stem glioma, or a very bad brainstem glioma tumor,” Cecilio Torres said.
Gabriella eventually passed away on Nov. 7, 2015.
“I think one of the major takeaways that occurred with us during Gabriella’s journey was how important the community was,” Cecilio Torres said.
Now, the Torres family and Gabriella’s Smile Foundation both want to make a difference.
“We provide financial assistance for families, so that’s one of the big things we do,” Isabel Torres said. “To date we’ve helped over 86 families with more than $58,000 in just that program alone.”
But it’s not just financial assistance as Gabriella’s Smile Foundation also has Operation Back to School, where it serves over 1,080 children with backpacks by delivering them to oncology clinics in local children’s hospitals.
“It’s to just really be a champion for children that are battling cancer in San Antonio,” Cecilio Torres said.
To help raise money for local families fighting pediatric cancer and to raise money for research there is a special event taking place this Saturday called “Gabriella’s 5k Cupcake Run”.
You can register for the event by clicking here.