June 2015 – Parenting OC Magazine
Richard Nares and his wife, Diane, had a great deal of support from their many relatives after their only child, Emilio, was diagnosed with leukemia. They were able to drive Emilio to every doctor’s ap-pointment and medical treatment without much trouble. But they noticed other families were not. Some families did not own a car, or needed their only car for work. They would have to take buses or cabs to and from the hospital. Cancer treatments for some children are daily or several times a week; the prices of transportation add up. Also, buses and taxis could be unreliable and unhygienic, a big draw-back for a cancer patient with a suppressed immune system. Some children arrived late to their appointments or missed them altogether.
Richard and Diane felt great empathy with other parents of cancer patients. They all “belonged to a club that no one wants to belong to.” So nine years ago, they founded the Emilio Nares Foundation (ENF), named after their son, who, sadly, died a few days before his sixth birthday. Richard and Diane did not have the background to start a foundation. “I didn’t even know what a foun-dation was at ﬁrst,” Richard Nares admits. “But I saw there was a need and I wanted to address that need.”
He certainly did. The foundation started out with one van to transport pediatric cancer patients to the San Diego children’s hospital. It has grown enormously since then, now providing over 2,000 rides per year in clean vans with a professional driver. Cancer pa-tients using ENF vans include a young boy with a single mother and three younger siblings; a six-year-old needing daily radiation therapy, whose mother has no car; and a baby living with her mother in a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
In 2009, the foundation expanded from San Diego to include Orange County. Nares notes that because our public transportation system is weak, the county is spread out, and trafﬁc congestion often makes trips to the hospital particularly time-consuming, his organization is especially needed in Orange County. The Emilio Nares Foundation now serves 400 families in 12 cities in Orange County.
It is not cheap to run ENF, which is completely funded by in-dividuals, foundations, and corporations. Nares says ENF spends $80,000 a year in Orange County alone, and adds, “We can use all the help we can get.” He’s gotten help in Orange County from the Anaheim Angels, Amgen, Inc., and others, but hopes that Parenting OC readers will go to the foundation’s website, www.ENFHope.org, and make a donation.
Though Nares’ wife, Diane, works fulltime, she promotes the foundation by speaking at various events and plans its annual major fundraiser, Harvest for Hope. This year, Harvest for Hope will be held at the San Diego Central library on September 13. Donors at the event enjoy excellent food made by local restaurant chefs, paired with ﬁne wines.
In 2013, Richard Nares was named a Top Ten Finalist to be-come CNN Hero of the Year. That year, he ran 700 miles in 30 days, from San Francisco to the children’s hospital in San Diego, to raise money and awareness of his foundation. He ended up bringing in $75,000 in donations and a great deal of media attention. Though Nares didn’t take up running until he was 50 years old, he and his wife say that he runs “on the wings of our son.”