Six months after her daughter, Elisa, was born, Cecilia Mendez said she was diagnosed with a disease that affects her brain.
Doctors said Elisa would only live three to five years. Now, she is just two months away from turning 19. The family said a new handicap van would make her life a lot easier.
Mendez said their old handicap van is breaking down. Car repairs now cost more than the van's worth.
Although Elisa has defied the odds, Mendez said seeing her on a ventilator never gets easier.
"It's very difficult, for the best and the worst at the same time," Mendez said. "The best because she is my gift that I wouldn't change for anything, and the worst because I think no parent would want to see their child in this situation."
Elisa also suffers from acute and chronic respiratory failure, making her highly at-risk for contracting COVID-19.
Since Elisa has regular doctor visits, Mendez said it's been a challenge to keep her daughter safe.
"It's been very difficult since the pandemic arrived," Mendez said. "For me, it was something super difficult because, ‘How was I going to protect my girl?’"
Mendez said she has already gotten support from people across the country. This support from other families has allowed her to never lose hope.
"They are people who don't really know us, and that is something that can't be explained,” Mendez said. “I mean, I can be grateful, but I can't explain what it really means to me."
Mendez said any donation, whether it's $1 or $100, would help her family. A link to the family’s GoFundMe can be found here.