GRATITUDE…..Such a simple word which has such a powerful emotion attached to it.  It is a word I carry with me everyday since having the amazing opportunity of being involved in the Twelve Days of Christmas Program sponsored by Cal’s All-Star Angel Foundation to drop off presents to an amazing little boy Gustavo Carlos and his family.

Gustavo is an 11 year old little boy with the warmest smile I have ever seen.  Gustavo was diagnosed with an Ependymoma at the age of 8.  An Ependymoma is a tumor located in the brain and affects the Central Nervous System.  The tumor has slowly progressed causing Gustavo terrible headaches, the inability to use 1 arm and his legs.  The treatment has been tough on Gustavo and over the last 1 1/2 years Gustavo has been unable to attend school and has been homebound.  A lonely little place for an 11 year old.

I have to admit I was a bit nervous to drop off the gifts to Gustavo and his family as their primary language is Spanish.  All my fears were completely removed just by the warm smiles that greeted me.  Upon entering the house you could feel the love and GRATITUDE from the family.  Gustavo is fortunate to have his siblings and cousins living in the same building and always spend their day “spoiling” him.  The family was overwhelmed by the generosity of the gifts we brought from Cal’s Angels.  You could feel the emotions of the family and they were so thankful that complete strangers had taken the time to step into their world and offer them the magic of Christmas as well as the time to show Gustavo and his family that we care.

 We spent almost an hour and a half just talking with the family and joking with Gustavo.  Gustavo was so excited about his gifts that we all agreed he should open just one that day.  He loved the IronMan toy and had fun counting up the gifts that he would see on Christmas morning.  It was sad when the time came to leave.  The hugs that came from Gustavo and his family left a permanent imprint on me…….Gustavo captured my heart!!

So for this brief moment that Gustavo entered my world I can only feel GRATITUDE!  GRATITUDE for those few moments I got to spend with a very special little boy with the kindest eyes and sweetest smile.  The amazing work of Cal’s All Star Angel Foundation allowed Gustavo to understand he isn’t alone and that people care…..about HIM!!!  Gustavo warmed my heart and has forever changed my spirit.  So, in the words of John F. Kennedy, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ” Gustavo and his family are amazing examples of doing just that!