Twelve-year-old Nathan Garcia is battling brain cancer, and, unfortunately, things have taken a turn for the worse. He’s hoping to make it to his 13th birthday just over a week from now, but not for gifts he’ll get. He wants to collect toys for other kids in the hospital, while he fights on from home.
Nathan had a dream of playing for USC. His room is filled with football trophies and autographed reminders. But, that dream has been put on hold as Nathan battles stage four brain cancer.
“He’s a warrior,” said Jessica Garcia, Nathan’s mom. “He’s a fighter. And, he’s a hero and an inspiration to a lot of people.”
Doctors found Nathan’s tumor in September 2011. After surgery to remove it, along with chemotherapy and radiation treatments, it’s back, along with another mass. On Monday, doctors told his parents he’s getting worse. We asked his parents where they are finding the strength, in which Nathan answered for them.
“In here,” Nathan whispered, pointing to his heart.
And, this kid’s got a lot of it. When Nathan could still talk, he made his birthday plans.
“He had told me that for his birthday, he wanted to give toys back to kids who needed it,” said Jessica.
On December 17th, Nathan’s 13th birthday, he wants to have collected so many toys, he can give them to other kids still in the hospital.
How many does he want? Nathan says he wants thousands.
“This is Nathan’s wish and we want to make it happen for him,” said Michael Garcia, Nathan’s father.
“Nathan has everything he needs. He has a lot of people who love him and has a lot of support, and so do we. And, we thought it would be a way to give back because we’ve been so blessed,” said Jessica.
Jessica is talking about the support they’ve received. A Make-A-Wish trip took Nathan and his family to the field of a Cowboys game. And, while 17 News was visiting, the family received another blessing, a phone call from USC’s head football coach, Lane Kiffin.
“Know we are praying for you. We’ll go win this game for you, okay bud,” said Kiffin to Nathan.
It’s another push forward as Nathan battles on, only hoping to see his birthday wish come true. It’s a day, doctors fear could be one of his last. Nathan would rather give than get, to other sick children, leaving smiles as his legacy.
“Maybe it’s just a way for everybody to come together again and realize what we have, and he’s the one showing us that,” said Jessica.
The Garcias say they will give the toys to the children’s hospital where Nathan stayed in San Francisco and the local Ronald McDonald House.
You can drop off a toy in his name at Jersey Mike’s Sub Shops in Bakersfield or any TERRIO Physical Therapy and Athletics in Bakersfield.