It was a longer and harder year for Pedro Roman, a Valencia High School football player who had been diagnosed with leukemia late last year. But he was able to cap it off with a new lease on life, and a visit from all his friends and local community members driving by to celebrate his 17th birthday.
With everyone having previously met at their rendezvous point in the Albertson’s parking lot nearby, a procession of fire engines, law enforcement vehicles, and cars driven by teammates and classmates, the parade was driven by the Roman family, who were standing on a sidewalk in Central Park.
As the parade drove by, classmates handed the young Viking gifts, balloons and waved posters with his name written all over them. Roman was seen shouting and pointing to his friends, while his mom and dad and the rest of his family cheered, clapped and thanked people.
“The goal today is to make him smile and to see people because he hasn’t been able to visit with anybody,” said Alana Altmayer, a friend of the family who had organized the event. “I mean, his family was outside of the hospital looking through a window.”
Altmayer said that for the last few months now, Roman has been receiving regular rounds of chemotherapy in order to battle the cancer. But just over a week ago, after a treatment where doctors worked to remove all his cancer cells, a biopsy returned showing that Roman was cancer-free.
“He hasn’t been able to do anything in the last year, because he’s been fighting for his life and he’s been sick,” said Altmayer. “So now that he can be outside, I just want him to be able to see people. I mean, today is his birthday.”
Roman said he was completely surprised by the parade and enjoyed seeing his friends. His mother and father expressed a similar sentiment.
“It was mostly all of my high school friends, but there was also a lot of people that I didn’t know,” said Roman, who then laughed. When asked what he was going to do with his free time now that he was out of the hospital, Roman responded, “I do have free time to work out, get better and keep the ball rolling.”