GRANITE SHOALS — When Michael Suarez celebrated his 13th birthday Dec. 4, his mother had nothing to give him, not even a birthday cake. This would have surely drawn protests and complaints from most newly turned teens, but not from Michael.
“He never complained,” said his mother, Suzanne Suarez. The 13-year-old boy even accompanied his mother as she applied for a job at Gateway Villa, a retirement community in Marble Falls. As she was working on the application, she looked up and noticed her son was no longer by her side. Instead, several of the residents had ushered the boy into a nearby room, where they served him a piece of pie and began singing “Happy Birthday” to him.
“Tell me that doesn’t show the kind of person he is,” Suarez said.
Despite all the Suarez family’s struggles, Michael still smiles. He still laughs. And he still approaches life with a grateful attitude even though Michael has battled polycystic recessive kidney disease his entire life.
When he turned 9, Michael began undergoing dialysis, which his mother administered every day. As the primary caregiver to a child suffering from such a disease, she has often forgone a full-time job to watch over Michael.
“It’s been extremely hard,” she said. “We’re struggling. When I came home on Michael’s birthday, they were cutting my water off. It’s that bad.”
Friends and supporters of Michael and his mother are trying to help the family with a garage sale 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 14 at KO Collision, 2705 Commerce St. in Marble Falls.
“Suzanne is working so hard to help her son,” said Kimberly Sturgill-Vancura of Ida Tunnell Insurance in Marble Falls. “She came in one day and just broke down in tears. My heart went out to her.”
So Sturgill-Vancura, with the support of the insurance company, joined up with the Rev. Ray Keasler of Abundant Heart Ministries, where the Suarezes attend church, to organize the garage sale.
“They’ve been through a lot, and they need some help,” Sturgill-Vancura said. “This seemed like a way we could help them.”
On July 23, Michael underwent a kidney transplant, which might have marked a turning point in his health. But even it came with added challenges as a post-surgical infection ravaged his stomach. For the next four months, he and his mother regularly traveled from Granite Shoals to University Hospital in San Antonio for treatments. This meant Suzanne Suarez couldn’t take a regular job, adding to the financial struggles.
Michael, who attends Marble Falls Middle School, but still needs a liver transplant. Physicians, however, want to wait until he’s much stronger following the kidney transplant.
While the financial woes and health problems seem to be a constant in their lives, Suzanne Suarez said they aren’t so strong that they overwhelm the biggest thing going for them: God’s love.
“It would be easy to just give up, I guess, but God has always been there and he always will,” she said.
She pointed out God’s work in all parts of their lives.
“Just to show how God works, Michael fully accepted God into his life when he was 12. He was baptized soon after, and, the week after that, he got the call that they had a kidney for him,” she said. “It’s a reminder that God always keeps his promises. And I think Michael’s story is a reminder of that. When people meet Michael, he doesn’t seem like a boy who has been through so much.
“People can get a tremendous amount of insight from a little boy’s life. We live in a time when so many people just want to give up, but I think if they heard Michael’s story, they’d see that God cares about them.”
“They’ve both faced so much,” she said. “But he won’t give up. I just want to do whatever I can to help them out.”
People interested in donating items for the garage sale may call Keasler at (830) 265-6685. People also may contribute online at www.gofundme.com or at the Michael Suarez Benefit Fund account at Security State Bank and Trust.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Garage sale benefitting Michael Suarez
WHEN: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 14
WHERE: KO Collision, 2705 Commerce St. in Marble Falls
TO DONATE ITEMS: Call the Rev. Ray Keasler at (830) 265-6685