Jose Gutierrez loves playing soccer. As a six-year-old soccer fan battling a rare form of cancer, despite his hardships of dealing with ongoing treatment, his face lit up as he spent a recent day with Houston Dynamos’ Kevin Garcia at Children’s Lighthouse of The Woodlands.
Just like a small spark of light and hope amid the darkness that came in the form of cancer, Jose’s family were over-joyed when they saw him play with Garcia. For a moment all their worries, trials and tribulations disappeared after seeing Jose’s happy face.
He never suspected it was a surprise for him Juan Santiago Gutierrez says, Jose’s father.
“Kevin arrived and gave him (Jose) the last jersey that he wore in the last game with his autograph and he got really, really happy,” Gutierrez said.
At first Jose didn’t understand or know who the Houston Dynamos were. His father explained to him exactly who he was and about the team. When Jose found out that he was a professional athlete his excitement bounced off the walls.
“He got really excited and had an awesome time playing and knowing him. Kevin was also very kind, he spent a lot of time playing with my son and we really appreciated it as a family,” Juan Gutierrez said.
It was a big deal for their family he added. Garcia arrived with some soccer balls and presents for Jose. They enjoyed their time playing soccer he says.
Thankfully, Garcia spoke Spanish because Jose doesn’t understand English very well. Playing and building a connection with a professional athlete that loves soccer as much as he does was one of the best days for Jose.
He (Jose) has a rare from of cancer called atypical teratoid rapdboid tumor which is a fast growing cancer that effects the brain and spine.
The officials at Children’s Lighthouse of The Woodlands learned that Jose was a huge soccer fan and did everything they could to make him happy. So the director of the facility, Joanne Webster, reached out to the Houston Dynamos to facilitate the meeting.
One of the things Webster says she remembers the most from the day is that Jose’s mother told her that he wasn’t eating well because chemo makes you feel so awful Webster says.
“Kevin sat down and starting eating. And Jose started eating,” Webster said. It was a precious and heartwarming moment to witness she added.
Webster found out about Jose’s condition and what his family was going through, from Jose’s younger sister Tatiana who attends classes at Children’s Lighthouse.
After Webster discovered the situation the family was dealing with she decided to bring some sunshine into their lives.
“I said hey, I’ve got a plan. For me it was me more about touching the heart of the child and giving him hope and the family as well,” Webster said.
For a continuing support of Jose and his family the Children’s Lighthouse of The Woodlands hosted a fundraiser on Dec. 9 to spread awareness for atypical teratoid rapdboid tumor. The funds raised will help Jose to purchase soccer balls to donate to children in the Texas Children’s Hospital oncology ward.
“When children have a purpose, when they have something that they want to do, they’re pretty tough. They’re pretty amazing little people,” Webster said.