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Carlos, a special kid

Mustangs hold Cut-A-Thon fundraiser for football player, who was diagnosed with leukemia in June.

August 07, 2010|By Steve Virgen, steve.virgen@latimes.com
  • Carlos Vazquez, who was diagnosed with leukemia in June, attends his football team's fundraiser held to help raise money to help pay for his hospital bills.
Carlos Vazquez, who was diagnosed with leukemia in June,… (Ani Yessayan, Daily…)

Some days it's tough for Carlos Vazquez to smile. Some moments are actually difficult for the Costa Mesa High incoming senior, especially whenever football is mentioned.

But Saturday wasn't meant to be sad. Vazquez was seen smiling, happy to see the support for him.

Two months ago, Vasquez was diagnosed with leukemia. His life changed. It doesn't feel normal, he says.

Support from the Costa Mesa football team has helped. The Mustangs, their coach Jeremy Osso and the team's boosters put on "Cutting for Carlos," a special fundraiser for Vazquez at Costa Mesa High on Saturday morning.

Osso was impressed with the turnout, as players from Calvary Chapel and Edison also came to have their hair cut, shaved to have the buzz look.

Vazquez doesn't have much hair either, but not by choice. He recently went through a round of chemotherapy. He said doctors told him he will need to go through more during the next eight months. The thought of that is painful enough for him. But he's deeply disappointed that he won't play football this season.

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This was supposed to be his senior season. Known as the toughest player on the team, and its emotional leader, Carlos was set to be a linebacker for the Mustangs. Most likely he would've led the team in tackles.

When Carlos was told he had leukemia, he was hardly concerned if it was life-threatening. He just wanted to know if he could play. His first question: Can I play football?

"Football is like my life," Carlos said. "I love the game. I enjoy the sport. I just love being out there trying 100%. It's beautiful to see everyone playing as one and to see everyone come together."

I'm not sure what Carlos was like before being diagnosed with leukemia, but the young man I met Saturday is one great kid, a special one for sure. In just 15 minutes of an interview, Carlos expressed his passion for life, his love for football and his gratefulness for his survival, as well as the support from friends and the community.

"It has kept me strong," Carlos said of the support. "There have been times I wanted to quit the treatment. I was like, 'I'm over it. I'm over taking the pills. I'm over being in the hospital.' I want to be normal. You know? But my friends are there pushing me, telling me that I have to keep with treatment if I want to get better. It's hard."

He's a special kid indeed.

That was easy to notice Saturday morning. Before, during and after my interview with Carlos, several of his friends and teammates came to hug him.

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