“A Family of Fighters”
It was every parent’s worst nightmare. A devastating fire enveloped Victor and Maribel’s home with their children still trapped inside. Karla, America, Emmanuel and Nahum were admitted to the Arizona Children’s Center in order to be treated for severe smoke inhalation and burns. The youngest sibling Victoria, 8, went into cardio-pulmonary arrest and died of smoke inhalation after reaching the hospital. The younger brothers, Emmanuel and Nahum, received the worst of the burns which covered their faces, arms, hands, torsos, and backs. These second and third degree burns encompassed over 25 percent of their bodies.
Emmanuel is 11 years old and has been incredibly brave and hard-working throughout his healing process. He has faced numerous surgeries, endless hours of physical therapy and painful daily bandage changes. Aside from struggling with the physical realities of his injuries and grieving for his late sister, Emmanuel has had to cope with accepting the changes in his appearance. His nominating child life specialist said it was with “a great sense of humor and an even greater smile” that Emmanuel has overcome unimaginable obstacles. Throughout it all he has always been a pillar of support for his family, especially his younger brother.
Nahum is a spunky 4-year-old with a love of Power Rangers, Superman and Spiderman. He modeled his idols by summoning his inner superhero to help him through the pain and fear of recovering from his injuries. His brother and sisters were by his side encouraging him every step of the way as well. He sees his scars as war wounds and the markings of a true hero. They certainly didn’t stop him from “whizzing down the hospital halls on his shark scooter” at the first chance he got, according to his nominating child life specialist.
His teenaged sisters Karla and America are only too happy to see the reappearance of Nahum’s playful nature. They are their brothers’ biggest cheerleaders and are always there to lend a helping hand. Both girls have assisted with bandage changes, therapies, tube feedings, and post-surgery needs with positive attitudes. Each of them take turns shouldering the responsibilities and helping to entertain their brothers through lengthy hospital stays with board games, brain teasers, and doing whatever it takes to make them laugh. They hug away their brothers’ tears and have found the resolve to move forward in life. The family’s nominating child life specialist marvels at “Karla’s focus [being] centered around her family,” calling her “a huge asset” and “one amazing girl.” Similarly, America is remarked as having “a kind heart, contagious smiles, and loving personality that truly enriches the lives of those around her.”
Currently the siblings are all recovering at home and are even back in school.
This is a family of fighters whose foundation of support stems from their love of one another. The fact that they have all been able to keep finding reasons to smile despite their overwhelming grief, anger, fear and frustration is a true inspiration. It is because of this that Kids Wish Network along with Arizona Children’s Center and the Arizona Burn Center at Maricopa Medical center proudly recognize Karla, America, Emmanuel and Nahum as heroes of the month. This story is dedicated in loving memory to their sister Victoria.