Meet the Echavarria Family!
Eden, her older sister Erin, her younger brother Elam (known at camp as Zeke) and I are beyond excited to be selected as this year’s honored family. I’m hopeful our story will raise awareness and our pain will be used for good: to bring smiles to other kids’ faces and more families will get to experience Sunrise as we have.
In the fall of 2019, I was a 25-year-old single mom in the Bronx raising three kids ages 5, 3 and 2. I was just finishing up my associates degree in medical assisting and ready to start my new career so I could provide
better for my children. Although Eden, my middle child, had always been the shyest of my three kids, we had a special connection, and I knew something was off with her behavior. She wasn’t very verbal, but she was quieter than she’d been before. Coming home from daycare one day, she was gasping for breath and groaning in pain. One of her eyes also
appeared to be swollen shut and after taking her to urgent care, they
gave me an ointment for her eye.
When that eye cleared up, the other one became swollen. She was not hungry at all, seemed very lethargic, and was very thirsty. When the
second eye cleared up, she began having nosebleeds. I also thought I saw spots on her body and to me she looked yellow. I went back to the urgent care and now they saw her feet and ears were yellow. They drew blood and when I received a call very early the next morning, I just knew in my gut it was not going to be good news. The blood test results showed it was either hepatitis or leukemia so we went straight to the ER. After examining her, the official diagnosis was Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
She was admitted to the ICU where she spent the next month and had both a blood transfusion and platelet transfusion. This began a very difficult year of treatment where Eden was in and out of the hospital. I remember feeling desperate. As a single parent, I had to rely on friends and relatives to help care for my other two kids while I was at the hospital. Often they were separated not only from me but from each other and Eden, and they felt I had abandoned them too. I was overwhelmed with this heavy load and kept re-assuring Erin and Elam that “Mommy always comes back.”
In the spring of 2021, Eden was doing better. Talia, the child-life specialist at Monte, told us about Sunrise Day Camp in Pearl River. I was thrilled that this camp was being offered free of charge not only to Eden but to her siblings as well. They were very nervous to get on the bus that first day, but they loved it immediately. They cried the last day because they didn’t want it to end. It was an experience I could never have afforded to provide and being able to give this to them helped me not feel “less than.” I am so grateful to the donors who make this camp possible for not only my kids but all the others like them who have gone through something similar. All the love and support really means something.
This summer will be their third at Sunrise Pearl River and they can’t wait to see all their friends. Eden (now 7) loves prom the best and the special relationship she formed with her counselor, “Blake my Bro.” Elam (age 6) loves color war and his “girlfriend” Mia (last year’s camper ambassador). Erin (age 9) really enjoys singing and dancing and loves the talent show and her music counselor, Cookie.
I am graduating with my bachelor’s degree this year and December will mark two years since Eden completed treatment—a very important milestone. It’s such an honor to give back by sharing our story. Sunrise is truly a second family to us.