|(Sept. 6, 2020, 10:05 a.m.) -- Individuals the Carranza family of NLB didn't knew and may never know, drove by the family home on Artesia Blvd. on Saturday Sept. 5. They came in numbers so large LBPD declared a traffic alert. They honked horns, brought gifts and conveyed their love to Nicholas Caranza, celebrating his final birthday at age 6, now in hospice care battling brain cancer.
It was an organic, digitally driven grassroots event following a more formal March 2020 event by Long Beach St Baldrick's Foundation, which designated Nicholas as their honoree for their annual head-shaving fundraiser; the event raised over $40,000 for childhood cancer research
A few months later, Debbie Foreman, who's not a LB resident but spends countless hours helping children fighting cancer, brought her Batman-styled Lambourghini to NLB to give Nicholas a ride, which he greatly enjoyed. By early September, he was too frail to venture outside. On Sept. 4, Ms. Foreman used her Twitter "Batventador" channel to spread the word about the birthday drive-by:
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LB resident Dennis Anthony Montoya witnessed what took place and wrote on Facebook:
I am at a drive-by birthday party for Nicholas he turn's 6-year-old today this boy has cancer in his brain and will not have another Birthday so we are trying to get as many cars to drive by and wish this little boy a happy birthday this will be his last birthday...I can't believe how the community came together and wished Nicholas a Happy 6th Birthday Everyone show so much Love for Nicholas it was hard for me to hold back my Tears
The Carranza family has a Go Fund Me page at this link
All of this brings to mind the Thayer family of ELB, whose daughter, Breanna, and son (an athlete and scholar Jalen) both fell victim to brain cancer. Breanna died at age 4. Son Jalen died at age 15.
Doug Krikorian, then writing for the Press-Telegram eloquently described what the tragedies the family endured, bringing the story to the city's attention (and ours.)
In April 2011, less than a week before Jalen passed away, the entire student body and teachers at Newcomb Academy K-8 school gathered to name the school's north athletic field in his honor.
After hearing multiple tributes in his honor, Jalen was offered the microphone and told the crowd in a weak but resolute voice: "I just want to say thank you, and keep up that positive attitude, and all thanks to God." (LBReport.com coverage with video, click here.)
The Thayers went on to organize six annual runs/walks in memory of Breanna and Jalen. LBREPORT.com attended and reported them. (Most other LB outlets didn't, and we never saw 5th dist, Councilwoman Stacy Mungo at the events.)
The Thayers also formed a non-profit: Have Faith Be Strong for childhood cancer awareness. It has a Facebook presence at this link. In Sept. 2019 it donated backpacks and school supplies donation to Oakland Children’s Hospital.
Reporters (who know the background of stories) try to make connections, to show how stories are related. We hope and pray for the day when we will no longer have to connect stories about LB families and childhood cancers.
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