Lucas Valencia is like most teenagers. He enjoys music, drawing and just being creative.
But while his friends are at the beach and playing sports this summer, the 15-year-old Vista resident is at home waiting for one phone call that will change his life ---- the one that says he can receive a new heart.
In the meantime, Becky Gelvezon ---- a community coordinator with an organization that assists
children like Lucas ----- has been working to help his family offset the costs associated with a
The Children's Organ Transplant Association has estimated the cost of the transplant to be
$500,000. The family will have to pay $50,000 for related expenses including cost of living and
The group has raised nearly $14,000 so far, Gelvezon said about the "COTAforLucas" effort.
On Saturday, American Legion Post 365 in Vista, along with members of the Veterans of Foreign
Wars, is hosting a second pancake breakfast to benefit Lucas.
The breakfast, which costs $5 at the door, will be held from 8 to 11 a.m. at the American Legion
Hall, at 1234 S. Santa Fe Ave.
Lucas was born with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and received a pacemaker. A year and a half
ago, he was told he would need a heart transplant, said his mother, Miriam.
"I was shocked," she said. "None of the cardiologists had ever mentioned that as an option."
Waiting for a donor heart has been very difficult on the family, but Lucas remains strong.
"He's very courageous; he's been having different surgeries since he was 4," his mother said. "I
think so much of his life has been defined by him sitting on the sidelines. He makes the best of new
situations. He tries to reach out and give back to the community and serve others."
The Vista Optimist Club will be donating $500 on Saturday, Gelvezon said.
In addition to fundraising for Lucas, the American Legion is also teaming up with the San Diego
Blood Bank with hopes of collecting 40 pints of blood for 1-year-old Mia Marie, who has a heart
defect and needs transfusions.
The bloodmobile will be outside the American Legion Hall from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
Those interested in hosting a fundraiser or offering a donation for Lucas can call
Visit www.cotaforlucasv.com for more information.