SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco firefighters and community members are pulling together to help the family of a Modesto teen who died of leukemia at a local hospital on Friday.
Enrique Yocupicio, 15, was receiving treatment at the University of California at San Francisco’s Benioff Children’s Hospital, and his family was staying at the hospital’s Family House on nearby Irving Street.
Several weeks ago, a social worker from the hospital’s cancer ward contacted the San Francisco Fire Fighters Toy Program and asked if the firefighters could bring some toys to the hospital for Enrique and his brothers, said Jill Peeler, one of the coordinators of the toy program.
“Of course we got some toys together,” she said.
While they were there, the firefighters heard Enrique’s story and met his mother, Marcela Yocupicio.
“Once we met her, we knew we couldn’t just leave the toys; we knew we had to come back and help,” Peeler said.
She said Enrique’s mother, father and four brothers — ages 10, 12, 13 and 19 — were all staying at the Family House.
The father wasn’t working in order to be with his son, and the 19-year-old — a bone marrow match for Enrique — had dropped out of college to donate bone marrow and support his brother, Peeler said.
“He basically extended (Enrique’s) life,” Peeler said.
Despite all of the efforts to save him, Enrique died Friday, two days before Christmas.
“While everyone else is celebrating Christmas, they’re worried about burying their son,” Peeler said.
She said the firefighters, who had been visiting Enrique daily, had grown close to the family and are trying to raise money to pay for his funeral and burial.
Peeler estimated it will probably cost about $4,500 to hold the funeral at Duggan’s Serra Mortuary in Daly City, and that the burial in Modesto will likely cost about $3,000.
Dan Duggan, of the family that owns the mortuary, donated $400 toward the service, and Mark Fontana, of Colma tombstone maker V. Fontana & Co. has donated a headstone, Peeler said.
The firefighters are holding a fundraiser on Tuesday at a Mexican restaurant in San Francisco to try to make up the difference.
In the meantime, firefighters and others have been working in other ways to lighten the family’s burden. Peeler and some other firefighters have been taking Enrique’s brothers on outings, and the 19-year-old, who wants to become a police officer, did a ride-along with the Marin County Sheriff’s Office.
Tuesday’s fundraiser will take place from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Don Ramon’s restaurant at 225 11th St. Dinner will cost $25, $10 of which will go toward the funeral service.
Those wishing to donate money can send a check — with “Enrique” in the memo line — to the San Francisco Fire Fighters Toy Program, 1139 Mission St., San Francisco 94130.
Donations can also be made by visiting http://www.sffirefighterstoys.org and clicking on “Donate.” Donors can note that the money should go toward Enrique’s family.
(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed)