First Person: Diane And Richard Nares
Our first person features are stories told by San Diego in their own words. Today we hear from Diane and Richard Norris started together like a storybook romance. Tested by a devastating loss. Now married 24 years have turned that tragedy into a commitment to help others.I think the experience of having different people and knowing I want to meet a good kind person. Who have the same values as I. Late 30s timeframe. To spend, myself instead of compromising in any way. And they say that meeting someone who friends is best way to go because your friends know you and what you deserve. And that is how we met. From a very good mutual friend. Two had been single for the shares. Living downtown. And a lot of years under my belt. Basically done but I knew I was looking for. Had not found it. Something magical when I saw her. And this is the woman I want to meet. Our friend introduced us. And we talked little bit later that evening. And she said I need to go pick up someone at the airport. When I said it is probably her boyfriend. And she said here's my card call me. I did during the week and she finally got back to me. And we had our first date. And we had our first date and it was like instantaneous for me. I knew it was her.I knew he was -- he reminded me of my closest friends. He had a strong interest in our -- art and history. Travel and music. Good food, great wine. I was in the line industry and had that appreciation. And we had so much fun together I remember thinking in my mind, this is being with my best friend. So much fun.I do not ever think about having children until I met Diane. And when we both got married, she said I want to have a child. And something about that, I do not hesitate to I said let's try to have a child.I got pregnant a few months after. I unfortunately miscarried about the eighth week. And waited a while. And then we tried again. I became pregnant with Emilio. In his twin. For about eight weeks I carried them both. Unfortunately miscarried with Emilio's twin. Emilio is driving.Is a thriving.She was very loving and patient. Just an overwhelmingly wonderful, giving person. And I cannot have asked for a better mother.Emilio was almost 3 years old. He had just started preschool. He was officially diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. March 20 1998. I would never forget. So there is a standard protocol of treatment. Which was a 2.5 year treatment plan. And he would be in remission within 30 days which he was. We always talked about the fact that the three of us would help others. Other children and other families once Emilio got through this. At 4 1/2 years old, he relapsed. And it came back. Leukemia came back. That was actually more horrifying than the initial diagnosis. There were no options. Except to find a marrow donor match. And to have a bone marrow transplant. We searched registries for almost 2 years. Never founded on a match for Emilio. We made everyone aware. We would do anything and go anywhere. Our neighbor said there is a special transplant being done at Boston Children's Hospital through the Cancer Institute.In the morning of donation I was in a room with about 10 kids. All five to 7 years old. And he was a grown up an account. -- In a down. It was a simple process. It's meant a lot to me to do it. It was his chance at life and it was critical and training. But not for the procedure. This was his last hope.Unfortunately, just too many infections, too much chemotherapy, too much. And we lost him. Predominantly to organ failure Boston. -- In Boston.It was a nightmare. I remember pinching my arm to see if I could wake up. But it did not change.We started talking about doing something seriously. 2 years after Emilio died. And would take another full year before Emilio foundation was created. During the first year talking about it, we love to say we had table conversations at the end of the workday. We would sit down together and say to one another, now what? We were parents. We had the greatest joy in our lives. Now we don't. It took 2 years to move through shock. Now what do we do with ourselves in our lives? And of course we talked about adopting children. We love being parents. But the emotional aspect to that as well. We were very aware of how painful that process can be. The birth mother changes her mind perhaps. And we cannot go there. The pain we were living there was so much. And we thought, maybe it looks more likely start to help other people. Who are living this life that we knew and know so well.We were seeing people missing appointments. And those are critical appointments. It's not like missing a Dennis appointment for a broken arm. These are critical appointments. If I can do something for these parents, that is what I want to do, matter has all.Richard took his card -- car and picked up children. And we knew we needed to get a [ Indiscernible ] so we could raise funds.We have seven bands. -- Bands. We have many patients who make about 4000 500 rides. And we travel over 110 miles per year.That was Richard and Diane, the foundation holding its annual fundraising event this weekend at the downtown central library. More information on the website. At first person was produced by Megan Burke.
Diane and Richard Nares have been married for 24 years. They met through a mutual friend.
"When we had our first date it was just like just instantaneous for me, I just knew it was her," Richard said.
"We had so much fun together and I remember thinking in my mind, 'this is like being with my best friends'," Diane said.
Their son, Emilio, was born in 1995, two years after they married.
But their happy lives changed in an instant. Just before Emilio turned three years old he was diagnosed with leukemia. He endured nearly three years of treatment, including participating in a bone-marrow transplant study at Boston Children's Hospital. Richard was his donor.
"It just meant a lot to me to do that, but it was his chance at life so it was critical, it was frightening, but not for the procedure, it was just that this was his last hope," Richard said.
It was not enough to save 5-year-old Emilio.
"Unfortunately just too many infections, too much chemotherapy, too much, too much, and we lost him predominantly due to organ failure in Boston," Diane said.
A few years after Emilio's death the Nares' began talking about how they could help other families with children fighting cancer.
While undergoing treatment with Emilio, they remembered noticing other families with children who had cancer missing critical appointments. Others rode the bus up to 4 hours in order to bring their child to a doctor's visit. That's when they knew how they could help.
It started with Richard driving two children and their parents to their appointments in his own car.
In 2003 they co-founded the Emilio Nares Foundation. Today the foundation has 7 vans. It helps approximately 225 patients get to 2500 appointments each year in San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties.
The Foundation is holding its annual fundraising event this weekend at the Downtown Central Library.