Dr. Michael Omidi spotlights Richard Nares, the founder of The Emilio Nares Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing free transport for childhood cancer victims in Southern California.
While a diagnosis of cancer is devastating for anyone, childhood cancer might be the most heartbreaking of all. For parents of children who have received this distressful news, the implications and obligations might be more than what they can reasonably bear in their emotionally bereft state. Moreover, cancer is no respecter of financial situations; families who were already struggling financially might be pushed into poverty by the incredible economic strain. Fortunately for many stricken Southern California families, Richard Nares and the Emilio Nares Foundation can help children diagnosed with cancer by taking them to their treatment centers.
The Emilio Nares Foundation began as a resource for families of children with cancer who weren’t able to afford transportation to hospitals. Many parents – single parents in particular – find themselves unable to juggle work obligations with the needs of their sick children, so they have to essentially leave their jobs. Furthermore, parents who rely upon public transportation might not be able to take their kids on busses or trains due to possible spread of infection. Mr. Nares’ foundation offers scheduled rides from children’s homes to different treatment centers in Southern California.
Mr. Nares knows firsthand the heartbreak of having a child with cancer. In 1998, his own son Emilio (for whom the foundation was named) was diagnosed with leukemia. The Nares family had a large network of family and friends who were able to offer help and transportation, as well as understanding employers who allowed flexible working hours. Nevertheless, after a valiant two-year fight, Emilio died, leaving his family seeking to fill a very large void in their lives. As a way of honoring his son, Mr. Nares asked Emilio’s treatment facility, Rady Children’s Hospital, how he could help. Transportation was what was needed, the administrators told him.
Mr. Nares’ situation wasn’t the norm; many families do not have the kind of support system that the Nares family had. Many parents do not have the kind of jobs that allow paid family leave. Others cannot speak English, and struggle to understand the specific treatment instructions. The Emilio Nares Foundation not only provides transportation, but also offers translation services as well as consultations on insurance and legal issues, and bereavement counselling.
Since 2000, the Emilio Nares Foundation has offered tens of thousands of rides to treatment facilities, helping to ease some of the tremendous burden from the families. The foundation has grown in order to begin to meet the needs of the population, and now has a small network of drivers making the rounds. The foundation offers transportation to approximately 40 families per week.
At Civic Duty, we are constantly impressed by the efforts of regular people to help their fellow citizens, and Richard Nares is a wonderful example of how an extraordinary person can turn a tragedy into a valuable community service. We applaud Mr. Nares’ work, and we hope that the Emilio Nares Foundation can continue its great work for as long as we have to endure the ravages of childhood cancer.
 Torgan, Allie: Grieving dad helps kids get to chemo CNN.com 11/13/2013 http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/02/health/cnnheroes-nares-cancer-rides/index.html?iid=article_sidebar