30 Mar The Strength of Family: Joseph’s Story
In 2013, Abril and Kenneth’s son Joseph was born with a congenital hernia (CDH). He required emergency surgery at the University of New Mexico Hospital. The Perea-Garcia family, who lives in Deming, New Mexico, made the four-and-a-half-hour drive to Albuquerque so Joseph could get the medical care he needed. After his surgery, they learned Joseph would have one functioning lung for the rest of his life and suffer from brief absence seizures causing sudden lapses of consciousness.
Abril shared, “Joseph is our firstborn, and I could not live with myself being so far away from him.” Abril and her husband found comfort being nearby at the Ronald McDonald House and staying close to their baby. Seeing Joseph daily, reading to him, and encouraging him to keep fighting was important. “I know that he would hear every single word we said to him,” said Abril.
The family expressed their love for the Ronald McDonald House and the many people who made their stay as smooth as possible. “Small gestures like greeting us in the morning or afternoon would lift my spirits,” shared Abril. “To be quite honest, seeing a smile on their faces whenever they were helping us made us feel comfortable. For a bit, we forgot that we were away from home to care for our fragile baby.”
The Perea-Garcias met many great families while staying at the House and said their stories inspired them. In turn, Joseph’s story has inspired others. Over the past nine years, Joseph and his family have traveled to Albuquerque for medical appointments to keep up with his care. During that time, they stayed at the Ronald McDonald House for more than 40 nights.
“When we go to Albuquerque, Joseph always asks to take his photo next to Ronald sitting on a bench in front of the House,” Abril shared. Joseph tells kids in his classroom that he was fortunate to stay at the House and has made it a point to fundraise and donate to RMHC-NM on April 19 each year, which is CDH Awareness Day. Joseph celebrated his ninth birthday on June 16. Despite his ongoing medical challenges, he is a significant influence on his little brother Kenny and his heart and uplifting spirit make a difference for others.