PINELLAS PARK, Fla. — A Pinellas Park family got a big gift this Christmas, one they could share with their neighbors.
The Juvenile Welfare Board Mid-County Community Council and City of Pinellas Park teamed up to put on a parade in the Arias family's honor. Every year the council selects a family to adopt during the holidays. This year it was the Arias family, who stood by their son's side as he fought cancer.
Shortly after his first birthday, Rey Arias started getting sick. By the time he was 18 months old, they learned he had lymphoma. His mother, Kenia, had to quit her job to care for him and their family of six.
"He's doing well. Last year it was a different story, but this year he gets to stay home with us," said Kenia. While Rey’s cancer is now in remission, the family lives with the uncertainty that it could come back as they struggle with piling debt.
But, this Christmas, they got some help. The council helped Santa get them gifts and even a tree to put it under this year. They even topped it all off with a parade featuring the city of Pinellas Park Fire and Police Departments, city officials, and Santa Claus. Rey even got to take a ride around the block on the fire engine and his own hard hat.
The celebration went through the Lodges at Pinellas Park. It's an affordable apartment complex offering homes for lower-income families, free literacy tutoring, job training classes, and more.
In addition to holiday gifts for the Arias family, JWB also gave away free books to all Lodges’ children who attended the parade.