EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Gold Out El Paso is an organization made up of nurses and parents of children fighting cancer with the goal of putting a smile on their face.
Eileen and Erik Montelongo started the organization last year. Erik works as a nurse in the Oncology department of the Children’s Hospital, where he takes care of children with cancer on a daily basis.
In 2018, Erik developed a close relationship with one of his patients, 19-year-old Eros, who was diagnosed with cancer shortly after high school.
“He became our son – he literally called us his second parents,” Eileen said, explaining how her husband Erik often called her from work and told her that Eros craved snacks and soda.
She immediately grabbed her children and ran to the store to bring him and other children in the hospital a treat.
“We lost him a little over a year ago,” Eileen went on, tears in her eyes.
Eros had a huge effect on the Montelongos and shortly after his death in October 2019 they founded Gold Out El Paso.
Gold is the official color of childhood cancer awareness, Erik said, explaining that it is something rarely talked about.
“Our kids are fighting cancer and it’s not an ad that you see on TV,” said Eileen.
They have now spent their time talking about the harmful effect of cancer in children in the community and bringing some comfort to the families of sick children.
In addition to many fun events for the kids, the Montelongos and other co-founders and members are raising money to help families with groceries and basic necessities.
“Many parents have to quit their jobs, they spend all their time in the hospital,” said Eileen.
They said the money they raise goes straight to the community and they encourage people to donate through their platform.
Some members and co-founders are also health professionals, like Erik, who makes sure that these children’s hospital stays are as comfortable as possible.
Gold Out EP took part in a healthcare celebration at El Paso Children’s Hospital’s Chalk the Walk of Heroes event, where El Paso artists decorate the sidewalk with chalk drawings.
Monica and Charlie Monarrez, owners of the T-shirt shop Viva La Mocha and makers of “El Paso Strong” t-shirts, represented Gold Out EP at the chalk walk event, showcasing one of their new T-shirt designs in honor of nurses.
“I hope they know they have a city that takes root for them and is very grateful,” Monica said of showing community support to health workers in El Paso.
Eileen and Erik, along with the other members of Gold Out EP, hope to continue to spread awareness about childhood cancer and hope to put more smiles on these children’s faces.
“When you see their smile and their eyes clearly, they forget that they are fighting with such a terrible disease and seeing that smile is just beautiful,” said Eileen.
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