Service planned for Havasu man who defied medical odds, captured community’s attention
A Havasu man whose childhood battle with an immune deficiency syndrome captured the community’s attention died Jan. 24 at the age of 24.
Anthony “Lucky” Yolla” had health problems from a young age, needing a bone marrow transplant at the age of three. Over the years, he spent much of his life in and out of hospitals and in the close care of his father, John Yolla.
“Lucky sure had more than nine lives, but eventually the medical system caught up with him,” John Yolla said. “I tried to get him to go back to what I called “Miracle Grow,” which was prayers to Jesus and a holistic nutritional program, but unfortunately Lucky didn’t decide to go back on that program until one week before he went back into UCLA Hospital and it was too late. The damage was already done.”
John Yolla said his son died from complications of a medication he was taking.
Lucky Yolla wasn’t supposed to live past the age of three. His fight for life made many headlines over the years. In 1997, he was invited by London Bridge Resort owner Tom Flatley to participate in the annual bridge lighting ceremony that kicks of the Lake Havasu City’s Christmas season. In front of a crowd of thousands, 3-year-old Lucky pulled the switch to light up the London Bridge and the English Village for the holidays.
In 2004, 10-year-old Lucky saved $500 to buy a dozen new bicycles for children in the community. According to the News-Herald article, it was Lucky’s way to give back to a community that supported him.
John Yolla explained: “I wanted to show him what giving back to others was all about, so I told him ‘you have everything you really need, what do you want to do for other people this Christmas?’ Lucky said, ’Dad, I want to buy bicycles with the money you would have spent on my Christmas gifts and give them away to kids in Lake Havasu who wouldn’t have a present this year.”
So the father and son team went to Walmart and Lucky picked out 12 bicycles to give to children through Interagency.
“Lucky was such a kind-hearted boy, he never asked for anything,” his father said.
Lucky was born in Lake HAvasu City in 1994 and he graduated from Lake Havasu High School in 2013. His father said he loved Lake Havasu and all it had to offer. Some of his favorite activities included off-roading in the mountains, and visiting Rotary Park to enjoy the clean air and sunshine. He also loved the local car scene, and when he was still healthy enough he often particpated in Thursday night cruises on McCulloch Boulevard in the supercharged Rambler he and his father built together.
John Yolla said his son spent most of the last two years of his life in hospitals from Washington D.C. to California, but the father-son duo found ways of enjoying life even through numerous hospital visits and medical procedures.
A few years ago, Lucky and his father traveled around the United States for 48 days. John Yolla said every time he was facing another procedure out of town, they coupled it with a fun event, such as a drag race or a car show, or a visit to a theme park or a ghost town. “Whatever I could find in the area,” he said.
A celebration of life service is planned for 5 p.m. Saturday at Rotary Park. His family is encouraging friends to bring their hot rods in Lucky’s honor.