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Uplifting spirits: Knights of Columbus launch fundraiser for disabled girl

September 4, 2018

By Nadia Tamez-Robledo

Staff writer

Miriam Delgado beams when she talks about her 13-year-old daughter, Alexis.

The Besteiro Middle School eighth-grader, who has cerebral palsy and relies on a wheelchair, loves trips to McDonald’s for yogurt, her mom said. Alexis also loves going to school, parks, dances, bowling and all things social.

But 41-year-old Delgado, who stands at about 5 feet tall, said she noticed it got harder over the past year to carry her daughter into her van to get to those places. Delgado must first pick up Alexis, who is 5-foot-2-inches and about 81 pounds, and place her into her car seat in the middle of the row. Then the single mom lifts Alexis’ large wheelchair into the back of the vehicle.

A member of the Knights of Columbus Council 1553 encouraged her to write to the group asking for help, and her story has inspired the organization to take on its most ambitious charity project to date. The council has launched a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $5,000 to install a wheelchair lift in Delgado’s van.

Tony Garcia, chairman of the council’s Charity Committee, said members found a company in McAllen that can install the lift. During a visit at her home, Delgado told Garcia that their 2002 Chevy Venture doesn’t meet a Medicare cutoff that funds wheelchair lifts for vehicles manufactured in 2005 or newer.

Garcia said what convinced him the Knights of Columbus needed to take on the fundraising challenge was meeting Alexis and Delgado.

“It seems like she puts 100 percent all the way to protect her child and do what has to be done,” he said.

Last week alone, the single mom said she repeated the transport routine when she took Alexis to four doctor visits around the Valley: a pulmonologist in McAllen, gastrologist in Harlingen and neurologist and primary care doctors in Brownsville. While Alexis’ care provider helps Delgado during the evenings, Delgado is on her own during the day.

Fernando Ramirez, grand knight for Council 1553, said a Knights of Columbus member saw Delgado in a Dairy Queen parking lot lifting Alexis into the van and encouraged her to send a letter to the council.

The Catholic fraternity funds through its bingos for a wide swath of charitable causes, he said, from their church to hospices and crisis shelters. While they can’t cover the entire cost of the wheelchair lift Delgado needs, Ramiez said members hope others in the community will contribute through the GoFundMe campaign.

Despite the challenge, Delgado remained upbeat for one reason.

“Only her,” she said of Alexis.

Delgado called Alexis her “three-time miracle baby” because the girl pulled through after being born prematurely at only 26 weeks, an infection at the hospital at 3 months old and pneumonia two years ago. The living room walls and refrigerator in her Southmost home are covered with photos of Alexis at every age: posing with Santa, at school, with relatives.

Delgado showed off her daughter’s certificate from the President’s Education Awards Program and Special Olympics medals. Alexis has consistently been on the A-B honor roll, she said proudly.

“Her report cards are better than regular kids’, and she’s really smart,” Delgado said.

Find the Knights of Columbus GoFundMe campaign for the Delgados at www.gofundme.com/Lift-for-alexis.

nadia@brownsvilleherald.com

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