Family of a Visalia boy battling cancer raises funds
Teresa Douglass , firstname.lastname@example.org 5:45 p.m. PDT August 15, 2014
A Visalia boy on the verge of starting his freshman year at Mt. Whitney High School is battling cancer instead.
Josh Villarreal, 14, was about to play on the freshmen football team following many years of playing football in the West Yosemite League and the Visalia Youth Tackle Football League, said his Aunt Melissa Valdez. He also likes to wrestle.
But since March, he's been in pain. It was at Children's Hospital Central California where he received his diagnosis at the end of July.
He will be transferred to the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University for chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Josh remains positive, Valdez said.
He knows something about cancer because each year during Breast Cancer Awareness Week, he and his teammates wore pink socks and pink gloves to bring awareness to the disease.
"It shows what a great kid he is," she said.
His parents, Josh and Lorina Villarreal, have three other children. It will be his father who will travel to Stanford with his son.
"He really needs his dad there during this time," she said.
But the father is the main breadwinner for the family with his construction business Ponderosa Construction. Without his income, it will be difficult for the family to make ends meet.
"We're just looking for funding to keep their household together," she said. "We're trying to keep it as normal as possible for them."
Valdez set up an online fund-raising campaign at GoFundMe.com.
Even though the website keeps five percent of money raised, she said it was the best way for the family to raise money. The goal is to raise $10,000. So far, almost $2,000 has been raised.
The football boosters at Mt. Whitney have helped the family by donating school supplies for Josh's younger brother who is in the seventh grade at Divisidero Middle School.
"His brother was over the moon," Valdez said.
Also, the Boosters are making T-shirts which will soon be available to purchase. Proceeds will benefit the family.
The public is invited to follow Josh's progress on the Facebook page "Josh Tackles Cancer." After the site was up only 24 hours, it had 500 followers.
How to help
To donate money to help the family of Josh Villarreal, 14, who is battling cancer, go to www.gofundme.com/cnqotw. For more info, contact Josh Villarreal Sr., at Villarreal-Joshua@sbcglobal.net.
While most 14-year old boys are preparing for the first day of high school, Josh Villarreal is preparing for the fight of his life. Josh is no stranger to cancer; he’s the football player on the field each year wearing pink socks and gloves in support of breast cancer awareness month. Little did Josh know that his world would be turned upside down when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
On July 30, 2014 Josh was admitted to Children's Hospital in Madera with severe stomach pain. A few days later he was told he had Ewing Sarcoma, a rare soft tissue cancer. The family was told that St. Jude Children Research Hospital was conducting a 9-month clinical trial that Josh could be part of with most expenses paid.
On August 7, 2014, three days before he was supposed to travel to St. Jude Children Research Hospital, doctors performed an emergency surgery for a bowl obstruction. They were able to remove a portion of the tumor for more testing, which showed that Josh had been misdiagnosed, making him no longer a candidate for the clinical trial. This was of course, devastating for the family.
Through all of the pain and confusion, Josh has shown everyone how strong and brave he truly is. Josh will now be transferred to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Stanford where he will be surrounded by some of the best pediatricians available. He is also excited that he will be close to the home of his favorite football team #Raiders.
While he and his family are extremely grateful for the opportunity to have Josh surrounded by some of the best pediatricians at Stanford, it will also have a significant financial impact on his family. Josh’s father has quit his job so that he can be by Josh’s side as he tackles the toughest opponent of his life and they are in the process of moving in with family to reduce housing expenses and save money. No family wants to give up their comfortable home, but they are a team, and a team does what is necessary to win!
The Villarreal family is beyond thankful to family, friends, and the community for the outpouring of love and support they have shown his family during this difficult time. We hope to raise not only funds for the family but also to increase awareness about childhood cancer.