Just a little more than a year ago life changed irrevocably for Joel Castro-Mares, Avigail Martinez-Baez and their two sons, Joel and Eliel. Now, employees of the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office want to do something to help this family that can no longer help themselves. And you can help, too.
A little more than a year ago, Avigail was expecting her and Joel’s third child. Their daughter, who would be named Genesis, was going to be born any minute. About 2 a.m. on Nov. 21, 2010, in need of some last-minute supplies, Joel and Avigail put their sons into the family’s Chrysler Sebring, and the family headed to the store.
But as they passed through an intersection on McCart Avenue, on Fort Worth’s south side, a drunk driver in an SUV ran a red light and slammed broadside into the family’s car. The drunk driver then fled the scene, but a Fort Worth Police officer who saw the accident was able to give his fellow officers enough information about the SUV that they were able to track down the driver while the first officer stayed at the scene of the accident with the gravely injured family of four.
When officers found the drunken driver at his home, he first tried to run out the back door. When they caught him, he sang the theme song to the TV show COPS as they handcuffed him and put in the police car.
Meanwhile, the members of the Castro-Martinez family were clinging to life – except for Genesis, the family’s as-yet unborn daughter. Her life was ended before it even had a chance to begin. She was killed in the crash.
The two young boys suffered serious injuries. Joel had fractured ribs and several lacerations. Eliel suffered a laceration to his liver. Their father Joel was so severely injured that he was unable to work for six months after the accident.
But Avigail was the surviving family member with the most serious injuries. Not only did she lose her unborn daughter, she suffered bleeding in her brain and in her lungs, and spent six months on life support — unresponsive and unaware of anything going on around her. Now, Avigail remains confined to a wheelchair, and she will be for the rest of her life, unable to care for herself or her family.
So this year, the employees of the Tarrant County DA’s office are adopting the Castro-Martinez family in an effort to give them a special Christmas. A statement from the DA’s office explained: “We want to help make their life a little easier by taking care of some of their important necessities” like a new wheelchair for Avigail, making their house wheelchair accessible, installing a shower chair and railings for Avigail and helping out with groceries.
“We also want to give the Castro-Martinez family a special Christmas,” the statement continued. “Our plan includes putting up a Christmas tree and lights and buying gifts for the two boys.”
And here’s where the rest of us come in. The DA’s Office is looking for donations — donations of in-kind items, like a new wheelchair, shower chair and shower railings for Avigail; cash donations that can be used to purchase necessities for the family, and donations of time and effort from people willing to help repairs and upgrades to the family’s home. Here’s the list of needed items:
In addition to a wheelchair, shower chair and shower railings, Avigail needs adult diapers, size medium, and sweat pants and sweat shirts, size small. Joel the father needs pants in a size 34 waist, and XL shirts. The children, Joel and Eliel, need pants in children’s sizes 5 and 6, shoes in children’s sizes 10 and 12 and jackets in children’s sizes 5 and 7. The DA’s Office also wants to be able to donate toys for the two boys for Christmas. Joel, now 5, asked Santa for a Nintendo Wii or an Xbox game system. Eliel, who is 4, asked Santa for a bike. They both said they like playing with cars and trucks.
I know that we have plenty of people here in our own LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities that need our help this holiday season. I am not saying we should ignore them. But I just think we should remember that we don’t have to restrict ourselves to just helping our own. When you get right down to it, we’re all in this together, after all.
But in the end, I guess, it doesn’t matter WHO you help. What matters is THAT you helped. And if you want to help the Tarrant County DA’s Office in helping the Castro-Martinez family, you can do that by dropping off in-kind donations in the conference room of the DA’s office’s third floor misdemeanor section, 401 W. Belknap, or by contacting Ashlea Deener by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Bryan Hoeller by email at email@example.com to make a cash donation or to volunteer to help with repairs.