Emilio Nares Foundation celebrates 20 years of helping children with cancer

The Emilio Nares Foundation was founded 20 years ago to help children who have cancer.
(Copyright of the Emilio Nares Foundation)

The San Diego-based nonprofit Emilio Nares Foundation is celebrating 20 years of providing support for children who have cancer and their families.

Emilio, who was diagnosed with leukemia at age 3, died shortly before turning 6. He would’ve been 28 this year. For two decades, his parents have kept his memory alive through the foundation by offering services such as transportation to hospitals for families going through similar battles against childhood cancers throughout Southern California.

In that time, they and their staff have helped more than 9,000 families by serving over 20,000 snack bags and driving about 1.3 million miles to get families to and from their medical care.

“It’s very, very amazing and exciting for us to reach our 20-year anniversary,” said Diane Nares, Emilio’s mother. “We started out as a small family organization, and oftentimes parents who go through experiences that we did want to get involved, want to find a way to help others.”

Emilio Nares
(Emilio Nares Foundation)

In honor of Emilio’s 28th birthday on Jan. 6, the foundation distributed toys to children with cancer. Other offerings from the Emilio Nares Foundation include Emilio’s Snack Bags, which provides food to help children recover from chemotherapy and the fasting they have to do beforehand; and Emilio’s Loving Tabs, which are shirts that provide easy access to medical devices so children don’t have to lift or remove them for various procedures.

The nonprofit will formally celebrate its 20th anniversary later this year on Sept. 10 at Harvest for Hope, its annual food, wine and craft beer fundraiser. It will be held at Coasterra on Harbor Island in San Diego.

Diane Nares said she remembers Emilio, the family’s only child, as “the sweetest little boy.”

“We just couldn’t believe his courage, his strength of character, how he fought every day to endure the ins and outs of chemotherapy and what he had to go through,” she said.

“He just inspired us daily,” added Richard Nares, Emilio’s father.

Their experience with Emilio helped them craft the programs, service and outreach that have resonated with so many other families over the years.

“It just grew organically because the programs we started were so important to these families. They were meaningful, and we were also able to get funding for them,” Richard said. “Just by meeting those needs and gathering support for these programs has enabled us to go for 20 years and hopefully many more years to come.”

To learn more about the Emilio Nares Foundation or make a donation for its 20th anniversary, visit ENFHope.org