Two families struggling with muscular dystrophy find each other

Step dad Jesus Mendoza helps Jesus Cruz, 10, get into his new electric wheel chair in front of the Travelodge in Santa Clarita on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

A local father and his son, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, loaded a motorized wheelchair into the family vehicle and delivered it this week to a woman whose son is afflicted with the same disease, after hearing how they were displaced with the rest of their family by fire.

On Tuesday, The Signal published the story of Carmen Navarro who was forced from her Canyon Country apartment by fire last Friday, unable to retrieve her son’s power wheelchair from her damaged apartment.

Carmen Navarro, Jesus Cruz’s mother, looks on as Cruz rides his new electric wheel chair in front of Travelodge in Santa Clarita on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

The very next day she got call from Ethan Marquez who, having read about her struggle for a place to live and her difficulty being deprived access to her son’s motorized chair – offered some help.

Marquez, whose own son Peyton also suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, runs a program called Peyton’s Project, which tries to help others coping with the disease.

The mission of Peyton’s Project is: “Improve the quality of life for children and adults affected by Muscular Dystrophy through enabling devices, technology, research and to ultimately find a cure.”

And, while there is no cure for the disease which afflicts mainly boys, the Marquez family was able to ease some of the pain felt by others coping with it.

“I am really, really thankful for what they did,” Navarro said about Marquez and the group behind Peyton’s Project.

Without the help of the family behind Peyton’s Project, Carmen Navarro would have had to wait another two months for repair work to finish on her damaged apartment and allow her access to the wheelchair inside.

Thanks to Marquez , the hardship posed by the inaccessible powered wheelchair was softened due to a simple kindness.

“We got in touch with Carmen and Jesus,” Marquez told The Signal. “A few hours ago, Peyton and I dropped off an electric-powered mobility scooter to help Jesus move around on his own. We also provided Carmen with a lot of possibilities on how to help Jesus get the best health care possible for Duchenne.”

The Marquez family regularly attends the Center for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, or CDMD, at UCLA, considered by many, including Ethan Marquez , to be on the forefront of this awful disease.

10-year-old Jesus Cruz checks out the features on his new electric wheel chair in front of Travelodge in Santa Clarita on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

“The founders of the CDMD have a son with DMD,” he told The Signal. “and they will stop at nothing to find a cure.”

Last week’s fire

On the afternoon of Jan. 19, fire broke out in the garage of the apartment unit Navarro’s family lived in at the Park Sierra Apartments on the 27300 block of Rock Rose Lane in Canyon Country.

Firefighters doused the fire promptly and stopped it extending into the family’s apartment.  The water used in dousing it, however, rendered the apartment uninhabitable for the next couple of months.

Trapped inside the apartment that was rendered off-limits was Jesus’ powered wheelchair.

So, when the Marquez family, father and son, delivered a replacement chair to the family staying a motel on Sierra Highway, the Navarro family, mother and son, were ecstatic.

Empowered by the donated chair, Jesus can get around with greater ease and the burden on his mother also lessened.

On Thursday, according to Carmen Navarro, a manager of the Park Sierra complex told her that an apartment had come available inside the complex in the last couple of days. The rent is higher than what the Navarro family were paying,  leaving them to consider management’s offer.

Investigators with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, meanwhile, have determined the cause of the garage fire to be electrical, and that electrical problem originated with the water heater.

[email protected]


On Twitter @jamesarthurholt


Related To This Story

Latest NEWS