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Father needs help fulfilling son’s last wish to see beach

December 31, 2015
By MEL TOADVINE (mtoadvine@breezenewspapers.com) , Lehigh Acres Citizen

One of Alex Rodriguez's last wishes is to be able to visit the beach, like Sanibel or Fort Myers Beach.

Alex, 24, is bedridden and requires care by nurses around the clock.

When he was very young doctors detected mitochondrial disease, which is an inherited chronic illness that can be present at birth or develop later in life. It causes debilitating physical, development and cognitive disabilities with symptoms including poor growth, loss of muscle coordination, muscle weakness and pain, seizures, vision and/or hearing loss, gastrointestinal issues, learning disabilities and organ failure.

Article Photos

Sandro Rodriguez

There is no cure for the disease. He may be 24, but his body is that of a boy due to the effects of the disease.

He lives with his father, Sandro Rodriguez, who says he wants to make his son's last wishes come true, if possible. The young man's father says doctors have told him his son may not survive the horrible disease much longer.

Rodriguez holds down three jobs and lives in Lehigh and has gone online asking people to help him buy a used van so he can put his son in the back of van and take him to places he has never seen.

Alex and his father can communicate with Alex using his eyes to point to letters to form words. That is how he communicates also with his four or five nurses. He is fed through a tube and is hooked up to life-saving devices.

When asked why he hasn't found a medical facility where his son could live, Rodriguez tears up and says that Alex is his son and that he loves him and that he would never in his life let the boy live in an institution away from home.

"I see him every day and I spend time with him. We have a bond that has developed since Alex was very young," he said.

Alex's father says doctors told him when his son was young, that he would not survive but a few years, maybe six years.

"Now Alex is 24 years and he is still living. He has a TV in his room and he enjoys certain programs like comedy oriented shows. The only time he has left the house is for specialized schooling in Fort Myers. He has had to be transported by a special vehicle, but for years he was taken to the special educational center and he graduated.

"It was a proud moment," Rodriguez said. "We pushed him across the stage in a wheelchair at East Lee County High School. He cannot walk or even move a muscle in his body."

Through special communications between father and son, Alex says he wants to go to the beach and see the water.

"To do that, I need a special transport van to take him there. I don't have the money to buy one. I am looking for a used one that is in good shape so I can take him out to see what the Gulf of Mexico looks like,"?he said.

Rodriguez has a gofundme.com site and as of the end of last week, visitors had donated more than $1,000 so Rodriguez can help Alex see his dream come true.

"My son feels trapped and he is. He can't move any part of his body. I want to put a fishing rod in his hands and let him get the feeling of what it is like to be outside and experience what others take for granted," Rodriguez said.

What he is looking for, he said, is a used Ford van with low mileage and in good condition. He has a car and trailer, but said he would trade or sell them and use the van.

For Alex, the disease that has taken over his body has been costly. But Medicaid has paid for the expenses, including the nurses.

"Without them, I don't know how I would take care of him since I work three jobs. He works for an area radio station and is a night emcee at different clubs each week," he said.

Rodriguez said he and Alex's mother are not together, but they are friends and she visits her son as often as she can.

"It was a horrible thing for her to face when we found out that Alex would not be like other children ... and that he would not live that many years. But he has fooled everyone and is 24, but doctors have little hope he will have much more time.

"They told us he had six years to live and now he is 24 ... graduated from high school ... and he is my special son," Rodriguez said. "He's a fighter and he has two brothers and a sister and we all love him very much and I won't put him away in some institution, I just won't ever do that."

He said over the years doctors have suggested that Alex live in an institution.

"That's not going to happen," Rodriguez said.

Many people have given by going online and Rodriguez says he is very thankful to those people.

"I just want to get enough to buy a used van so I can finally take Alex out and around," Rodriguez said. "I want to fulfill what may be his last wishes."

To help Alex, visit online at: gofundme.com/alextransportvan.

You can give your financial gift at the site. There is a video on the site and you can listen to Alex's father ask for help.

 
 

 

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