HEBER – At a formal gala decorated with ribbons, jewels and flowers, Imperial Valley’s Amigos de Alejandro, a local non-profit dedicated to helping children with cancer and their families, hosted a dinner and dancing fundraiser Friday evening at Club Lohoo in Heber.
For their eighth annual Gala, Amigos de Alejandro organizers anticipated much support from friends and family as guests were served dinner and encouraged to dance thereafter.
Elva Quezada, mother of Alejandro and the founder of Amigos de Alejandro, started the non-profit after her son passed away from cancer. The group has been supporting children diagnosed with cancer for the past nine years.
According to Quezada, the non-profit helps fund transportation for children and their families to travel to medical appointments in San Diego.
“The journey to San Diego for chemo made us realize that there is no help in the Imperial Valley for kids with cancer, and we realized the need for a non-profit here,” said Quezada.
Amigos de Alejandro also helps with emergency financial costs, such as electric bills, gas bills, other monthly expenses, and funeral expenses. The non-profit is able to support children and their families because of the fundraisers and the community’s willingness to help, organizers said.
Quezada said she realizes the importance of providing more than just financial support for those dealing with life-threatening illness. She strives to give emotional support by connecting with the families and hosting events to make them feel less alone in their journey.
“This started as a way for us to keep Alejandro’s memory alive. Now it’s not about keeping his memory alive — now it’s about helping others,” said Quezada.
Karima Rangel, a beneficiary of Amigos de Alejandro, has been involved with the local non-profit for the last three years. She turned to them shortly after she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Rangel volunteered to work at the Gala event Friday and stood at the entrance to hand colorful roses to guests as they came in to enjoy a night of dancing and family fun.
“I like to give back to them after everything they’ve helped me with. This isn’t just for cancer patients, it’s for our families,” said Rangel.
Quezada and the volunteers of Amigos de Alejandro said they plan to continue to help children and their families fight cancer with the hope to reach as many families in the community as possible through more fundraising events.