RIO GRANDE CITY — Cirio Rosa Jr. of Roma was all smiles Friday at the annual Cattlemen’s Roundup held by Driscoll Children’s Hospital. The smile did not reflect the tragedy that struck a year earlier.
The sponsored hospital benefit has become an annual tradition in the city as the funds raised are to assist parents like Rosa with transportation to and from their main hospital in Corpus Christi and the provided medical care.
Rosa’s son, Damian, was born January 2016 at Starr County Memorial Hospital with complications to his spinal cord and with heart issues.
When the complication were discovered, Damian was flown to Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi within two hours of his birth.
Baby Damian had spina bifida, a birth defect affecting the spinal cord. He was also stricken with a trachea problem that led to the hospital to insert a feeding tube into him before he was released to return home.
“A few months later, we went back because of his heart problems, so he had open heart surgery and then another open heart surgery,” Rosa said. “The first time, we stayed there like two months then came home for a month and then went back for another two months then came back home.”
The 37-year-old was at Driscoll in Corpus for approximately six to seven months, Damian was being treated.
“I was sad, but the nurses they made me feel good – very comfortable,” he said about the time spent at the hospital. “It was like our home away from home.
“I could go out and get rest and I know he (Damian) was in good hands,” he said. “They would always call me like if they were giving him medications and they were always on point.”
Rosa said, the nurses briefed him that Damian was ill and broke that news that the child had less than a year to live, more than likely just six months.
“I was basically prepared, but I didn’t want for it to happen,” he said.
Damian died February 2017, less than two months after his first birthday.
Although Rosa has two other children, a 12-year-old and a 4-year-old, his affection and memory for Damian still lives on by the tattoos on his arms.
“My Little Champion” is tattooed on his left arm along with Damian’s date of birth date of death. His name is written as a ribbon. Rosa’s right arm the heartbeat line with his son’s name Damian.
“I was so attached to him every single day, by seven (in the morning) I was there with him until like 12 at night,” he said.
Family tried to convince Rosa of leaving the hospital at times, but he wouldn’t Damian’s side.
The Cattlemen’s Roundup, which has been a Rio Grande City staple for more than 20 years, is formed as an auction to fundraise for Driscoll Children’s Hospital by local 4-H clubs, Future Farmers of America chapters, county extension agents and local business.
LaHuan Guthrie, development director, Rio Grande Valley Driscoll Children’s Hospital said the event is used for transporting children in their ambulance and make available any other medical services throughout each hospital.
The fundraiser was held at the Starr County Fairgrounds and auctions items included agricultural equipment, jewelry, cakes, pies and other items.
“The very cool thing is a lot of these 4-H students end up baking cakes, cookies and pies and what’s so amazing to see the generosity of our supporters who are paying hundreds of dollars for these items,” Guthrie said. “It’s wonderful to see these kids working over the summer during their time off to bake and do stuff like that and to come out and during the summer to help raise money for the kids.”
The proceeds will go toward the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Angel Eye Program at Driscoll.
“We have a lot of families, who can’t be with their children at times, so the money is going to Angel Eyes cameras, which will be hooked up to the kids cradles and so that way the families are always be able to be there with the kids and see the kids whenever they want,” she said. “Also, the money is going to be continuing the support of the transport with the ambulance that was bought with the funds at the event (cattlemen’s roundup) in the previous years.”
With this year’s nine cattlemen’s roundups, two more than 2017; Driscoll children’s hospital plans to raise more than $200,000, besting last year’s record of $195,000.
To become a donor, visit www.driscollchildrens.org or call the hospital at (361) 694-6419 or the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at (956) 487-2306.
The next roundup is at the Edinburg Livestock Auction, 3418 N. Closner, Blvd on Aug. 11.