EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Gold Out El Paso is an organization comprised of nurses and parents of children that are battling cancer with the goal to put smiles on their faces.
Eileen and Erik Montelongo started the organization last year. Erik works as a nurse at the Oncology Department at the Children’s Hospital, where he takes care of kids sick with cancer daily.
In 2018, Erik became close to one of his patients, 19-year-old Eros, who was diagnosed with cancer just after graduating from high school.
“He became our son — he would literally call us his second parents,” said Eileen, explaining how her husband Erik would often call her from work telling her that Eros was craving snacks and soda.
She would immediately grab her kids and run to the store to bring him and other children at the hospital some treats.
“We lost him a little over a year ago,” continued Eileen with tears in her eyes.
Eros had a huge effect on the Montelongos and soon after his passing in October 2019, they founded Gold Out El Paso.
Gold is the official color of childhood cancer awareness, Erik said, explaining that it is something that is rarely talked about.
“Our children do battle cancer and it’s not a commercial you see on TV,” said Eileen.
They have now dedicated their time to talk about the detrimental effect of childhood cancer in the community and to provide some comfort for the families of sick children.
Along with many fun events for the kids, the Montelongos and other co-founders and members fundraise to help families with groceries and basic supplies.
“Many parents have to quit their jobs, they spend all of their time in the hospital,” said Eileen.
They said the money that they raise goes directly to the community and they encourage people to donate through their platform.
Some members and co-founders are also health care workers, just like Erik, who make sure these children’s hospital stays are as comfortable as possible.
Gold Out EP participated in a celebration of health care at the El Paso Children’s Hospital’s event Chalk the Walk of Heroes, where El Paso artists decorate the sidewalk in chalk drawings.
Monica and Charlie Monarrez, owners of Viva La Mocha T-shirt store and creators of “El Paso Strong” t-shirts, represented Gold Out EP at the chalk walk event, showing off one of their new T-shirt designs that celebrate nurses.
“I hope they know they have a city that’s rooting for them and that is very grateful,” said Monica of the showing of community support for El Paso health care workers.
Eileen and Erik, along with the other members of Gold Out EP, hope to continue spreading awareness about childhood cancer and hope to bring out more smiles on these kid’s faces.
“When you see their smile bright and their eyes, they forget that they are battling such a horrible disease and seeing that smile is just beautiful,” said Eileen.