LOMA LINDA (CBSLA) — A young boy whose Cinco De Mayo turned tragic got a welcome visit from some men and women in uniform at rehab Wednesday, and they put a big smile on the brave child who has been going through what would be a tough time for even the toughest adult.
Michael Villalobos was rolled out in a wheelchair with his hands over his eyes in high anticipation at the Totally Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Loma Linda.
When he opened them, the 9-year-old said simply, “Oh my God!” He had just been handed a brand new PS4 video game console. He said he received “The Lego Movie” and “Street Fighter.”
It was a moment of joy for Michael, who has been undergoing rehab since the May 5 incident. He and his mother were at a taco stand in San Bernardino that evening when a car with drunk driver Michael Clemmons behind the wheel swerved on Del Rosa Avenue and struck a vehicle near them. Michael was then pinned between two cars.
Tragically, doctors ended up having to amputate the fourth-grader’s leg.
“It’s so painful for him,” Michael’s mother Melissa Chavez told CBS2 News. “He said, ‘I don’t want this no more.'”
Doctors expect Michael to remain at Totally Kids another six months, and he will need surgery on his other leg and his abdomen, but this gesture might help him pass the time.
Even in the face of so much suffering, Chavez said she told her son to never give up hope.
“I’ve been telling him every day, ‘You can do whatever you wanna be, and I’m gonna be there for you,'” said the mother. “‘Whenever you’re ready to use your prosthesis, it’s fine.'”
Her dedication is not lost on the boy. “I love my mom, and I’m happy you guys came here,” Michael told the crowd.
San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon teamed up with the Debbie Chisholm Memorial Foundation and the Sheriff’s Employee Benefit Association to give Michael his surprise gift.
His classmates from Victoria Elementary were also on hand to cheer Michael on, giving him a personalized scrapbook.
“He’s so strong about this whole situation, undergoing so much surgery and pain, and he’s pretty tough for enduring all that without screaming or crying,” proud cousin Jesse Zavala told CBS2.
Clemmons was charged with a felony DUI and driving on a suspended license and has since posted bail, according to the California Highway Patrol.
A GoFundMe Campaign was launched to help defray some of the costs as Chavez spends every day with Michael. As of Wednesday, donors had raised a little over $5,000 of the $50,000 goal.