tv Comunidad del Valle NBC November 21, 2021 9:30am-10:00am PST
damian trujillo: hello and welcome to "comunidad del valle" i am damian trujillo. today, we're putting wreaths across america, honoring our fallen veterans this christmas on your "comunidad del valle." ♪♪♪ damian: we begin today with the make a wish foundation. we're joined here on "comunidad del valle" by the arias family. leonardo arias gonzalez is my special guest, and his mom and dad are also with us, karla and josé gilberto. welcome to the show, folks. karla arias: thank you. gilberto arias: thank you. damian: all right, well, i want to ask you, karla, tell us about leonardo's situation and how the make a wish foundation
helped make a wish come true. karla: well, this is leonardo and he was born with a double inlet left ventricle problem, heart problem, and he's been through five surgeries. he was born in lucile packard children's hospital over in east palo alto, california, and he's doing wonderful right now. cardiologist says that he's doing good, that he doesn't-- for the moment, he's not gonna need another surgery. and the cardiologist was the one that sent us to make a wish, and that's how they contact us, saying that what was leonardo's wish and that cover the whole family, my other kids. so, for us it was--we really thanks make a wish for doing leonardo's come true, going to visiting us--taking us to island catalina and it was really enjoying. wanna say something, leo? say thank you to make a wish. c'mon, say "thank you."
damian: leonardo, tell us how-- don't be shy. tell us how you're no different than any other boy, that you still do the things that everybody else can do. how is that? karla: [speaking foreign language] say, "i'm doing good." he's a shy boy. damian: [speaking foreign language] gilberto, as a parent, i know that any time a child spends time in a hospital, it's devastating psychologically. tell us what your family went through when you found out that this was happening. gilberto: yeah, absolutely. you know, as you can imagine, it was something we didn't expect, you know, to have a child with these kinds of needs. when they told us he was gonna be born with a heart defect, it was a little scary for us, as parents. he's my first child so it was a difficult situation for me, personally, but also for my wife, you know,
'cause it's a situation that nobody expects. we've been through--we've been through a lot, you know, since he was born. he--his first surgery, you know, was, like, eight days after he was born, so we didn't get a chance to really hold him in our arms. it was mostly difficult for my wife, you know, 'cause every newborn, you know, spends a lot of time with his-- with their mother and it was very tough for her. damian: yeah, i--karla, i get a lump in my throat just hearing the story. i can't imagine what you were getting. how was it then and how are you now? karla: well, at that moment, for me it was devastating. i was feeling sad, but i am really a religious person, that i pray to god and to the virgin of guadalupe to help me accept this--accept my kid how he was, and now i'm doing much better.
i am enjoying my kid. we spend time together. he's first year at school and he's doing much better, and i really love leonardo. damian: yeah, i--how is he doing physically? i know that the doctors can work miracles and especially there at stanford. he's in the best hands. physically, how is he doing? karla: he's doing great. his weight is normal, he's running like a--he practically, like, if people see him, he doesn't seem like he's--has a heart disease. he runs, he plays, he doesn't get tired. he's doing normal. damian: and what's the long-term prognosis? i mean, if he keeps it up, i would imagine, but what did the doctors tell you? karla: well, his cardiologist told us that, right now, at the moment, he's not gonna need 'cause it's, the future, he might need a heart transplant, but for the moment, if we keep him up healthy, eating healthy, keeping out of people that smoke
and just keep an eye on him, he's gonna be doing good. damian: and gilberto, he's a handsome little boy and, i mean, i asked him [speaking foreign language] but how is--he's not any different than any other six- or seven-year-old, is that right? gilberto: yeah, that's right. yeah, like my wife was saying, if you see him, you know, he looks like a normal kid. he's been playing at school, he's, you know, running around. at the beginning, you know, after the first couple of surgeries, he was getting a little tired after those couple of surgeries, but now he's running around like a normal kid. damian: --we talked to. he's a really handsome kid. well, i wanna talk in our next segment about the make a wish foundation and how they helped you get through this, you know,
difficult situation that you all were in. but the make a wish foundation, most of their proceeds and donations, they go to events like this, they help people like little leo, so we're gonna show you some information if you wanna get a hold of them. if--two things. one, if you think that you qualify to receive a gift like this, or if you wanna make donations to make a gift like this come true, there is the web address for more information. this is the make a wish foundation of the greater bay area. we will be back with the arias family when we continue, so please stay with us.
talking about the make a wish foundation. we have some beautiful pictures that y'all shared with us. karla, tell us about this trip that make a wish foundation, again, provided the family to catalina islands. karla: well, the trip was we went in a car. make a wish rented us a van, a minivan, 'cause i have other, three other children besides leonardo. so we went. it was fun.
it was actually a big family trip for us because it was the first time traveling together as a family far away and my kids really enjoy it. leonardo was really excited. we went to long beach and then from there, we waited on the ferry. leonardo was happy and--'cause he's really into titanic boat so he saw the queen mary [speaking foreign language] and was it exciting? leonardo arias: mm-hm. karla: yeah, he saw--we got to take pictures of the queen mary and then we waited there to--for the ferry to take us to island catalina and it was, like, take an hour to get there and when we got there it was totally different, like, i really enjoy it. we really loved it because it was, like, something different, like, getting out of the city, like, being in the ocean, in the middle of a ocean, in the island, it was a wonderful experience for us and, especially, for leonardo.
damian: oh, i bet. we're looking at the pictures and they're just--it looks like everybody's having a good time. gilberto, tell us what difference this made mentally for the family. karla touched on that a little bit, but mentally, going through what you've gone through and the fact that you were able to get away like this, what did it do for your mind and your soul? gilberto: yeah, absolutely, it was something--something good that took us out of the worrying about leonardo and all the problems. i mean, and of course, the problems are not gonna be solved by a trip but it made us forget about all the problems that we had--we went through as a family in the early years of leonardo. and also, it reminded us that we are, or leonardo is a normal kid now, you know, he's able to go, he's able to do whatever he wants. and that was--that was a good closure for us as a family.
damian: your thoughts on the make a wish foundation and the fact that they're able to at least lend a small hand in the mental recovery of your family. gilberto: yeah, absolutely. i mean, i--when i was younger, i was--i used to attend these basketball tournaments make a wish used to put together in the watsonville area and i never thought--it never occurred to me that one day i would be, you know, receiving these benefits from the make a wish foundation. it's a great foundation. they're well organized and they helped us through the trip. they are very, very generous with people who really need this. damian: and karla, it was a nice way to forget about everything and then just focus on family [speaking foreign language] karla: yes, it was, 'cause we didn't have to worry about
anymore leonardo's surgeries. we just left everything behind and say, "okay, now we're getting on the road, so now it's just focusing us and having fun and enjoy with leonardo and his other brothers, yes. damian: okay, let me see if i can get a word out of him. leonardo, what was the best part about being on the island? what was your favorite part? damian: i tried-- leonardo: playing mini golf. damian: oh, say that again. karla: can you say that again? say it again, baba. say, "playing mini golf." oops, sorry about that. damian: oh, playing mini golf. well, that's fantastic. and then to see the smile on his face as all of this is transpiring must have been heartwarming tambien. gilberto: yes. damian: your push, i guess, what would be your push to folks who might be wanting to help and wanna make another dream come
true like the one they did for leonardo? gilberto, what would you say that that one message for those folks out there? gilberto: well, i'd say ever get into--get the opportunity to receive, you know, a dream from the make a wish foundation, you know, to take advantage of it because they go all out--they go all out for the families. they go first-class all the way for the families. they make everything possible and they deliver. damian: and then, but the message that it sends to folks to donate, karla, i would imagine that the--you know, if they don't have donors to donate to the make a wish foundation, you know, your trip with leonardo would not have been realized. but--so it relies a lot on donors, people who can open their hearts and see how they can make another dream come true. karla: well, i--yes, it's true, like you say.
if donors wanna be donating to make a wish foundation or other kids want to have their wish come true, you know, so i really encourage people that can donate, even a dollar makes a difference. because seeing the smile on the kids that went through a lot of things, it's--it doesn't have a price, but for me, it's--it was a really great experience but i really encourage people to keep donating. even, when i go to macy's right now, as they say, "you wanna round out to make a wish?" and i was, like, "yes, you know, 'cause make a wish make us--our dream come true." so, for me, it was--it's really nice to donate for them. damian: all right, and then most of the proceeds that are made to the make a wish foundation, they are--they go directly to what you're seeing right now on your screen is the smiles that you're putting on people's faces, on children's faces, because you're making a wish come true.
but, thank you, folks, so much. i know it's a very personal story. we thank you for opening up to us and hoping that maybe another family who was in an unfortunate situation tambien will have the same opportunity. thank you. gilberto: yes, you're welcome. damian: all right, thank you very much. and again, the make a wish foundation of the greater bay area, they're accepting donations and maybe you--if you'd like a--if you have a wish, and you qualify, there--you can find out more information there. it's a wish.org/greaterbay here on "comunidad del valle." we'll be back and talk more about wreaths across america. so stay with us.
with me on "comunidad del valle" is staff sergeant christhian sanchez and also with me is david cruz who's a cadet with rotc over at santa clara university. gentlemen, welcome to the show. david cruz: hello, thank you. christhian sanchez: hello, thank you for having us. damian: thank you, sir. staff sergeant, we'll start with you.
tell us about your career and what you do now. christhian: hello, good afternoon. my name is staff sergeant sanchez, first name christhian. i joined the military back in 2005, right after high school. went to iraq, what was going on. and, you know, i was the very first person in my family who joined the military, which, you know, it's very significant for us. you know, deployed to afghanistan twice, served in the special forces community for eight years, and i traveled throughout the world, various locations. currently, i am military science instructor at the university of santa clara, with rotc program that serves four universities: santa clara, stanford, san josé, and santa cruz. damian: sir, in--you're an immigrant from honduras? christhian: yes. damian: tell us why, being an immigrant from honduras, why you would wrap yourself around the american flag and wear the sacred cloth and decide to defend this country
in two tours? christhian: you know, it's a--that's a really good question and i get asked that question a lot. and the number one reason is it's, you know, i don't do it just for myself. it's my whole family. it's a form of saying, you know, "thank you for everything this great nation has done to my family, myself, you know, providing a safety, education, you know, and the opportunities to succeed in life." damian: what--your thoughts when you hear that, mr. cruz, being a cadet at santa clara university, to hear--'cause your parents are immigrants themselves and to hear that--this coming from another immigrant with his choice to defend the stars and stripes? david: yeah, absolutely i agree with the sentiment that this country has given us a lot of opportunities to, not only myself, my parents who, like you said, are immigrants from mexico. so i always wanted to have an opportunity to kind of show that gratitude and that thanks with all the opportunities, so
serving in the army and going into that in the future is absolutely the best way, i think, to be able to do that because it has been an amazing opportunity for not only me, but both my family. damian: yeah, thank you for that decision. staff sergeant, i would imagine that, unfortunately, serving two tours, you do have some buddies who did not make it home? christhian: that is correct and, you know, and it's sad, very sad, and, you know, it's very sad thing but actually i'm grateful that the organizations out there like wreaths across america that actually donates and make sure that events like this happen and to honor the legacy of the veterans and especially the ones who paid the ultimate sacrifice. so it actually means a lot. damian: oh, absolutely. we do have video from prior years of the wreaths across america events. this one is taking place at los gatos memorial park once again.
and this is, right, staff sergeant, this is where we just--volunteers go out and lay wreaths on the headstones of our fallen soldiers. christhian: that is correct. that is correct. and it's a community event, you know, and it shows a lot of support to people who either donate or go there in person to assist. you know, it's the minimum we can do to respect the legacy of those veterans that wore the uniform before us. and it's a great thing and it's actually, we're not doing that just for the soldiers but also think about the family members because, you know, by honoring the--for service members, you know, the family members also get a sentiment of gratitude, knowing that someone still cares out there for the loved ones. damian: yeah, and as a cadet, mr. cruz, why is this important--such an important event for you? david: the military has such a long history with so many people taking part in it, so it's, i think, very important to remember each and every single person that has come before 'cause it not only helps us reaffirm our commitment to the
country, but also just is an opportunity to give thanks and, like the sergeant said, to kind of give thanks to the families also because it is important to keep the past servicemen and women in mind and just be thankful for them. damian: no, that's such a beautiful event. well, it's happening on december 18 at the los gatos memorial park, at military cemeteries all across the country, but this one is a local one. eleven o'clock, it goes up to memorial park. i will serve as your master of ceremonies once again, american legion post 809 will do the honor guard services, and again, the rotc will be there also, providing their services. there's the web address for more information. we'll be back with these distinguished gentlemen when we continue here on "comunidad del valle." stay with us.
so, basically, staff sergeant, it's just a way of honoring those, some of, or most of whom gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of this country? christhian: that is correct. it's a, you know, great organization and it, you know, pretty much, we honor the legacy and, you know, pay the proper tributes and respect to all the veterans that serve our nation, you know, past and, you know, gave the ultimate sacrifice for this nation. damian: and even, mr. cruz, we see what, you know, the ugliness of war and what that entails, though that still inspires you to serve, to wear that sacred cloth as well. david: absolutely, just because that is an unfortunate reality of defending the country, but it's definitely one worth making sacrifice for because we have a lot to protect here and, yeah.
damian: yeah, your advice, staff sergeant, to--mr. cruz--my son, who's indicated that he may at some point also raise his right hand and swear to defend the constitution and the united states. your advice to those young folks who are about to do what you did, is wear that sacred cloth? christhian: to do everything to the best of their abilities and, you know, and this is a great profession, which is different from a job, you know, it's just a great profession. brings unity and there's a bigger cause of the way and why we do the things that we do. damian: and, you know, what this event, the wreaths across america, mr. cruz, is always--it's one of my favorite events to mc, to witness, to take part in. describe what the--what it does to you--you mentioned it a little bit, but what it does to you to be able to honor those fallen heroes. david: absolutely, just to, you know, throughout my couple years in rotc, we often hear about people's experiences in
the military through textbooks or different lessons, so this is an opportunity to kind of honor those who have gone experience that we will be going into and just kind of giving thanks for, kind of like, their service. so it is pretty impactful, kind of, just to see the people who came before us. damian: all right, i've asked too many questions, i've poked and prodded a lot. staff sergeant, what would you like to say to us, to the viewers, in, you know, ahead of this great event, wreaths across america? christhian: thank you for the contribution and, you know, as well as what's either money or time to pay respect to those who sacrificed and, like, the ones that serve our great nation from all different branches. this is not just an army event. these are from all different branches. so, you know, very thankful for that. damian: all right, thank you, sir, and i appreciate you. thank you for your service, welcome home. again, this is coming from a man who immigrated from honduras
and decided that this is a country that he wanted to serve and thank. staff sergeant, thank you so much. again, welcome home. christhian: thank you. damian: thank you, sir. mr. cruz, any final thoughts from you as well? david: yeah, just to say that for anyone who was looking or is looking for an--a way to give thanks to the military and the servicemen and women who've come before us, this is a fantastic opportunity and i really hope that people get out there and help if they can. damian: it really is. thank you so much, both of you. thank you for being on the show with--it's been my honor. thank you so much. david: thank you. christhian: --for having us. damian: thank you, and again, this is wreaths across america, december 18 at los gatos memorial park. there is the web address for more information. i will be the honor--having the honor of being your master of ceremonies for this great event, the highlight of my year annually here on nbc bay area and on telemundo 48. well, we thank you for sharing a part of your sunday with us here on "comunidad del valle."
if you'd like to get a hold of us, my handle on twitter is @newsdamian. my handle on instagram is @newsdamiantrujillo. and also pick up a copy of "el observador" newspaper or the online version and support your bilingual weeklies, all across the bay area. we thank you so much for being a part of our sunday, once again. we're gonna leave you now with a little bit of upbeat music with flaco jimenez and little joe y la familia. we'll see you again. ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [singing foreign language] ♪♪♪