AUSTIN, TX--(Marketwire - Nov 8, 2012) - Today, the LIVESTRONG Foundation hosted a hard hat tour in East Austin at the home of bone cancer survivor Jose Antonio Ventura, whose home is undergoing a renovation as part of the LIVESTRONG Survivor Support Initiative. The Survivor Support Initiative, an effort designed to help cancer survivors facing exceptional challenges, is made possible because of the generosity of community partners including Balfour Beatty Construction, The Bommarito Group, HomeAway, Move Solutions Ltd., Redmon Construction, Rubbish Works and Texas Great Pyrenees Rescue. The home renovation will include interior and exterior upgrades and is expected to be completed by mid-December in time for the holidays.
"In addition to our steadfast commitment to serving people affected by cancer, the LIVESTRONG Foundation is also committed to bettering our community," said Greg Lee, Chief Financial Officer for the LIVESTRONG Foundation. "It's heartening to have so many community partners join our efforts to give the Ventura family a better quality of life and we are grateful for their generosity."
"The LIVESTRONG Foundation has helped us a lot," said Ventura. "They have given us the confidence that we can go on. And they have helped us with many of the practical challenges we've faced because of cancer. We are excited about the plans to renovate our home and are very thankful for everything the Foundation and their staff are doing to help our family."
The Ventura family represents the growing Hispanic population in the United States. Cancer rates for Hispanics are projected to increase by 142% by 2030, compared to 45% for the overall U.S. cancer incidence. Hispanics, who as a demographic tend to have lower incomes, less education and less insurance, have lower survival rates for most cancers, which may reflect less access to timely, high-quality treatment. The Foundation has recently expanded its outreach to the Hispanic community in an effort to close the gap in the health disparities for Hispanics diagnosed with cancer.
In August 2010, Jose Antonio sought support from the LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Center for a number of practical and financial obstacles related to his illness. As the Foundation learned more about him and his family, their neighbors in the East Austin community, they realized the Venturas were faced with overwhelming challenges that were being precipitously worsened by Jose Antonio's illness.
For the past 16 years, Jose Antonio has made a living by working manual labor jobs -- sweeping parking garages and streets and working in kitchens. His hands tell the story of his hard life. A year after being diagnosed with bone cancer, Jose Antonio suffered a stroke. He currently receives care at Brackenridge Hospital and MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is no longer able to work because of his illness and that loss of income makes life even more difficult for this family.
Maria, Jose Antonio's wife, is now the only bread winner in the family. She works in food service making less than $20,000 a year to support a family of five, but wants the best for her children and is determined to give it to them.
Gustavo, the couple's 18-year-old son, is wise beyond his years. In addition to caring for his father, he is also helping to care for his niece, three-year-old Zurayma, and nephew, six-year-old Miguel, both of whom the family recently adopted. Even in the face of adversity, he manages to excel in school. His hope is to graduate from high school and gain a scholarship to attend a special academic program at the University of North Texas in Denton.
As Foundation staff assisted Jose Antonio, they learned that the Ventura family home was in a state of extreme disrepair. Because of mounting medical debt related to Jose Antonio's treatment, the family could not afford badly-needed repairs which include window replacements, plumbing upgrades, basic home security and a kitchen renovation. The Foundation selected the Venturas for special assistance as part of the Survivor Support Initiative.
Though many generous partners have already donated their time and services to this effort, cash donations are needed to get the family essential household items. Anyone interested in donating to the Survivor Support Initiative can do so at LIVESTRONG.org/SurvivorSupportInitiative.
About the LIVESTRONG Foundation
The LIVESTRONG Foundation provides free cancer support services to help people cope with the financial, emotional and practical challenges that accompany the disease. Created in 1997 by cancer survivor and philanthropist Lance Armstrong, the Foundation is known for its powerful brand -- LIVESTRONG -- and for its advocacy on behalf of survivors and their families. With its iconic yellow LIVESTRONG wristband, the Foundation has become a symbol of hope and inspiration around the world. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised nearly $500 million to support cancer survivors and served 2.5 million people affected by the disease. For more information, visit LIVESTRONG.org.