From business executives to celebrities, we have seen our share of interesting and exciting clients. But, none mean more to us than the families and children we provide complimentary rides for that receive treatment at the Childrenâ€™s Inn at NIH.
One recent family especially touched one of our drivers, and we wanted to share that story with others. The smile on Allenâ€™s face behind the wheel says it all.
Allen Cobar cuddled with his mom in their room at The Childrenâ€™s Inn, too worried to sleep. At age 10, Allen has worries beyond his years. On this particular hot morning in July, the lanky, brown-haired boy was concerned for his mother. It was her turn for surgery—again on her hands, the same hands that have guided him through his own treatments at the National Cancer Institute.
Sonia Cobar and her son have a close bond—they share a serious illness: neurofibromatosis. This genetic disorder of the nervous system primarily affects the development and growth of nerve cell tissues. Young Allen has tumors that grow on nerves within a hair of his spinal cord, preventing him from doing what he loves best—playing baseball. His mother has tumors on her fingers that cause her constant discomfort. They both live each day with varying degrees of pain.
Staying at The Childrenâ€™s Inn has boosted the familyâ€™s spirits and brought them closer to The Innâ€™s nurturing community, Sonia says. She, her husband Hugo and Allenâ€™s two brothers, Adrian, 4, and Leo, 13, come to The Inn from Chicago every few months for Allenâ€™s treatments.
“Every time we walk into The Inn, we feel like part of the family,â€ Sonia says. “We are all in this together, no matter who you are, where you come from or what your illness is. Family is what The Inn is all about.â€
On the morning of his motherâ€™s surgery, Allen picked out some jewelry to give her at the hospital. “I couldnâ€™t give her a hug because I didnâ€™t want to hurt her fingers,â€ Allen says.
On days when Allen is in pain, he keeps it to himself. “He hardly ever tells us that he is hurting,â€ Hugo says. “He doesnâ€™t want us to worry. We know because his blood pressure goes up, his ears get red. He tells me he loves me all the time, thatâ€™s when I know heâ€™s having a tough day.â€
Allen is a natural caretaker. The family recently appeared on the Montel Williams Show and despite the excitement of being on national TV, Allen didnâ€™t take his mind off of his caring role. While waiting backstage, a stylist gave final makeup and hairspray touchups to guests. Allen bristled as she sprayed his mom: “Mom, are you ok?â€ he asked. He knows sprays and perfume trigger serious reactions for his mom.
“He takes better care of me than I do,â€ Sonia says. “Heâ€™s my little guardian angel on Earth.â€