Sunday Funday Moment: El Pasoans answer 3-year-old Aiyanna’s Valentine’s Day wish
EL PASO, Texas-- A few weeks ago ABC-7's Iris Lopez shared a story about one El Paso mom's request for Valentine cards to help cheer up her 3-year-old daughter Aiyanna who is battling leukemia.
Immediately after the story aired Aiyanna was showered with dozens of Valentine’s day surprises from people in the community and across the country as well.
”Alamogordo, Fort Worth, Dallas, Van Horn, New Mexico, San Antonio, Houston, Kansas, Washington from everywhere basically,” said Claudia Lerma, Aiyanna's mom.
When ABC-7's Iris Lopez first interviewed little Aiyanna, she was shy and timid. However, for this second interview she was excited and anxious to show off her brand new princess Ariel outfit that she was able to get with money that was donated to her.
"She was saying 'oh my god they really do like me mommy' and she's just been really active you know," said Lerma.
Immediately after Aiyanna’s story aired gift boxes, balloons, teddy bears and Valentine’s cards were delivered right to her front door step.
Aiyanna also received gifts from local businesses, city officials and two special Disney princesses even paid a visit to princess Aiyanna. The visit was so special, she had to make a phone call to her favorite person.
"She called her Grandma and said, 'Cinderella came to my house,” said Lerma.
The support from the community came just in time for Aiyanna’s chemotherapy treatment.
“When we woke up to go to chemo her 'Card my Yard' sign was outside and she was really happy," said Lerma, "But she was sad because she didn't want to go to chemo because she wanted to stay with the sign.”
This act of kindness from the El Paso community showed that 'El Paso Strong' is more than just a phrase.
"El Paso Strong. Everyone came in and showed up for her and it really did bring her spirits up and we really are thankful for that,” said Tarin.
But it wasn’t just Aiyanna’s spirits who were lifted by the communities support.
“It helped us a lot too like we’ll sit down and we’ll read the cards and I’m like oh my gosh that’s so nice," said Lerma.
Lerma and Tarin are beyond thankful for the support from the community, but they hope that others are able to share the love they’ve been receiving with other children battling cancer in our community.
“We want to thank everybody. Especially Gold Out El Paso. We want to invite the community to be part of Gold Out El Paso so they can not just take interest in Aiyanna but other little kids as well," said Lerma, "If they brought her up like that imagine what they can do to the rest of the little kids that are in there battling cancer.”
Gold Out El Paso is a local community of families who support one another as their children battle cancer.
Aiyanna has been on steroid medication and because of that she is beginning to lose more hair. Her confidence began to go down as she noticed the hair loss, but hospital staff provided Aiyanna with a special Barbie to explain to her why she was losing her hair and promising her that it would grow back.
After that trip to the hospital Aiyanna got the courage and confidence to shave off her hair and she also had one special request for her parents.
"She had a request for me and her dad to shave our hair so we are going to do it," said Lerma.
Other friends and family members have also volunteered to shave off their hair to show their support for little Aiyanna. Something both Lerma and Tarin are even more grateful for.