Rafael Medina is very much like any other five year old you might meet’¦ funny, shy, fidgety, loves to tease and play with his brother and sister, and wishes he had all the superpowers of Spiderman, his favorite comic book and movie hero. Rafael though, for all his strength, courage, willingness and limited “Spidey” powers suffers from a terrible and nearly incurable form of pediatric cancer that afflicts young boys between the ages of four and ten. This awful disease is called Rhabdomyosarcoma and it is a very specific type of tumorous mass that attacks and destroys the tissues that connect our muscles to our bones. It is almost always fatal even for those fortunate enough to have excellent insurance and limitless funds’¦neither of which describes the circumstances of Rafael or his immediate and extended family.
On September 19, 2014, little Rafael turned six. Most likely, barring some kind of miracle, he will not be here to see his seventh. His current doctors have stopped all treatment and have moved into pain management and palliative care. They have recommended one last option, a second opinion’ evaluation at The Cancer Centers of America (just to be certain)’¦but unfortunately the family’s insurance does not cover this option nor do they have the funds available ($900.00) to even get in the door to see a doctor. Without some kind of help and the selfless compassion of strangers, hope has begun to fade and resignation has settled in’¦ until now.
Hilton Worldwide’s “Global Week of Service” is in October, whereby every property in the Hilton Global Community is tasked with giving back to the people and communities who so graciously allow them to serve their guests and clients in their towns, cities and countries. Projects range from community revitalization and devolvement, mentoring and hiring programs, or charitable work and affiliation with a known and reputable organization. Quite by accident (via one of their associates at the hotel) The Waterfront Beach Resort, a Hilton Hotel, were made aware of the story of Rafael and his family. They were extremely moved and at the same time looking for a project or charity that would fulfill their desire to participate in the “Global Week of Service”. They think they have found a perfect match.
First, they shall undertake giving Rafael and his family the Spiderman-themed birthday party of his dreams ‘¦ complete with Spiderman cake, cake pops, kid-food favorites (like chicken fingers and mini-sliders), Spiderman movies on a large screen in lounge setting, webs throughout the party space and all the “Spidey” decor they can get their hands on (or that their budgets will allow). Volunteers will set the party, staff the event, provide the audio and visual effects, conduct the games and serve the guests. It’s what they do, the likes of which this family has never seen! Gift lists will be circulated, cards will be designed and sealed and balloons of every “Spidey” color will fill the birthday venue. His family and selected close friends will be treated to a celebration they could only imagine, and all at the Hilton’s time and expense. At the end of the day, or whenever Rafael has felt he has had enough, the family will retire to one of the spacious ocean-facing rooms for a much needed (and personally completely unaffordable) break for some serious Waterfront R&R.
And that’s when the real work begins’¦
The Waterfront Beach Resort has selected the Irvine based Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation as its charity of choice for the Global Week of Service. Based on both independent auditing ratings and the obvious connection to young Rafael, the Hilton believes they have identified a two-fold way to “give back”. A GoFundMe.com website will be established in Rafael’s name; bake sales and various auctions, raffles & fundraisers will be put into action and they hope, in some greater way, that all will be worth the sweat, tears, effort and love for this little boy and the time he may have remaining. All funds raised will be split evenly with the family and the charity. The family may do whatever they wish with monies raised’¦whether it is to retire mountains of medical bills and debt accrued over the last several months, enhance little Rafael’s quality of life in any way they see fit, or pay for any final expenses (should they be needed sooner rather than later), we shall place no restrictions or requirements upon the family. The remaining 50% of funds raised will be donated in Rafael’s name to the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation to help find a cure and care for others who find themselves in similar unfortunate circumstances.
Posted by Rachel Allan