When tragedy ripped her family apart, the community rallied to bring them back together.
The majority of us lose sight of our parents until they are gone forever.
The Rodriguez family learned this the hard way as sickness claimed their lives in just a few years. Mother Lisa Smith died of cervical cancer first. Alexander Rodriguez, the father, succumbed of lymphoma shortly after.
Samantha Rodriguez, 20, was thrown into the role of parent, dad, and sister for her siblings Destiny, Bella, Michael, Brenda, and Milagros, who range in age from 7 to 16.
She helped them out by working as a server at Disney Springs in Orlando.
Rodriguez admitted to CNN that growing up so quickly was difficult.
“It’s difficult to know when to act like a parent and when to act like their sibling. It can feel like I’m alone at times.” – SAMANTHA RODRIGUEZ
She had no idea that the determined Rodriguez was not alone.
Rodriguez stated that she was nervous but ready to take on this challenge.
“No one in our family could accommodate us all, so I resolved to do whatever I could to assist these children. I had no intention of allowing us to be apart.” – SAMANTHA RODRIGUEZ
The Sheriff’s Office of Orange County agreed. As a result, they brought the Rodriguez family over for a tour of the station and showered them with toys and clothing to cheer them up.
The Office sent out an APD for charity when the family arrived in an Uber because they didn’t have a car. Indeed, the search yielded a few results.
Several anonymous contributors chipped in, and the Sheriff’s office invited the family back a few months later to present them with a brand new car.
Rodriguez was taken aback.
“I was completely stunned!” she exclaimed. “This is insane!”
“It didn’t truly hit me until a few days later. Everything I plan for the kids now is a lot easier. I don’t need to request a ride. I appreciate it greatly. All of these people helped me realize I’m not alone.” – SAMANTHA RODRIGUEZ
Samantha’s energy will have to be conserved because the best was yet to come.
Many people believed that the Rodriguez story—and their new car—was insufficient. As a result, a GoFundMe campaign was created in their honor.
“This family still has a long path ahead of them,” the message stated.
Donors did not let us down. Thousands of dollars were donated. They’ve raised almost $180,000 for the Rodriguez family as of this writing.
Inspired donors swamped the website with comments.
“I have to tell you what a REMARKABLE human being you are… your siblings are so very fortunate to have you, and you are truly an inspiration to everyone,” one commented.
Keep the faith, said another.
“You are a wonderful young woman, and your siblings are all wonderful children. There may be difficult days ahead, but if you continue to rely on one another, you can do anything! Best wishes!” – ANONYMOUS DONOR
Rodriguez said that the outpouring of love has transformed her life forever.
“It instilled in me the desire to do better for others. Other wonderful people did not have to come into our lives in this way. We are quite grateful.” – SAMANTHA RODRIGUEZ
Rodriguez does have another angel who has provided her with strength.
“My mother taught me a lot. I acted as her sidekick. She explained, “I learnt what it took to raise a family.”
Samantha and her siblings will never be able to reclaim their parents or their lost innocence. However, thanks to open hearts, Lisa and Alex can rest assured that everything will be OK.