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South Texas organization gives meals to patients at Driscoll Children's Hospital

Ray Sanchez founded 'Smiles From Heaven' as a way to honor his daughter Bella who passed away from childhood cancer.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — There were lots of french fries and smiles inside of Driscoll Children’s Hospital Tuesday afternoon, thanks to one person by the name of Ray Sanchez.

Sanchez is the co-founder of ‘Smiles from Heaven’ an organization in honor of his daughter.

“I founded this nonprofit organization called smiles from heaven in honor of my daughter Bella, who battled childhood cancer,” said Sanchez.

“Little Bella sadly passed away in April 2019, and so me as a parent we’ve been through it all.”

For Bella and many other children access to treatment wasn’t just a drive down the street.

“Bella got diagnosed when she was 7 months old in Laredo, Texas sadly Laredo Texas is medically underserved so we don’t have any pediatric cancer facilities,” said Sanchez. “So, we have to travel hundreds of miles to Corpus or San Antonio and Houston to receive treatment.”

Because Sanchez understands what these parents are going through, he makes sure families have the help and support they need.

“A little bit of what we do is we provide transportation, the actual transportation to patients, we provide fuel cards, we provide meal cards, we provide lunch,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez spent his Tuesday driving to the Coastal Bend from Laredo to show his appreciation and to give a warm meal to patients and their families.

“It’s a way to say thank you to Driscoll Children's Hospital for taking care of our Laredo patients second it’s a little bit of it brings cheer to the families and kids spending their holidays at the oncology unit receiving lifesaving treatments,” said Sanchez.

The team at Driscoll says they’re thankful for this special treat.

“Given the fact that our families are going through such a hard time anything that we can do to put a smile on their face or to take away some of the burden of dealing with a child with cancer I think just helps so much,” said Pediatric Hematologist Oncologist Dr. Katherine Boston.

And soon children from the valley who come to the Coastal Bend for treatment will have access right there at home.

“You really just can’t overestimate the importance of family support so if families don’t have to be uprooted from their home and can stay closer to their support system, their siblings, their puppy dogs I think it’s really great to have another hospital that’s Driscoll that gives the same great care closer to those families,” said Dr. Boston.

If you would like to learn more about Smiles From Heaven, click here.

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