School Throws Parade for Young Student Preparing to Undergo Heart Surgery.

School Throws Parade for Young Student Preparing to Undergo Heart Surgery.

June 21, 2022 by By Cathy Stack

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas—As 9-year-old Ethann Valdez prepared for a life-saving heart transplant, his family notified his school that he would be taking a leave of absence for a few months as he recovered. When his teachers and classmates learned about Ethann’s upcoming surgery, they wanted to do something special to show their love and support. The school organized a festive parade in his honor that included cheering classmates, teachers and community members.

Ethann was born with geleophysic dysplasia, an incredibly rare skeletal condition that has impacted only about 100 people worldwide to date. A form of dwarfism, the condition often results in bone, joint, heart and skin abnormalities.

Ethann’s mother, Brittney Hernandez, said that despite her son’s physical differences, he is a typical happy, bright boy who is full of life. She said his classmates have always accepted and appreciated him just the way he is, and she feels deep gratitude for the school’s incredible support for her son and her family. 

“I was always worried that whenever he started school it would be difficult with bullying, but all the kids here are really good with him,” Brittney said. “He’s famous here. He likes walking down the hall and saying hi to everyone.”

Ethann has undergone a series of health challenges in his young life, and the open-heart surgery would be one of his scariest hurdles yet. He and his family members were understandably apprehensive about the operation.

The entire student population turned out in full force at parade. An estimated 600 of Ethann’s classmates, teachers and other supporters rallied together to show their love and support. The parade even included a cheerleading squad and police officers driving in their cruisers. Jubilant students held up handmade posters with supportive messages like “We love Ethann” and “Be Strong.”

The parade was an epic surprise and heartwarming sight for Ethann and his family. Knowing that their community cared so much for their welfare gave them an added boost of strength.

Ethann looked thrilled throughout the parade festivities with a huge smile on his face. Like royalty, he rode through the crowd on a golf cart, waving to the cheering crowd. He also received thoughtful gifts, such as a Kindle Fire, to use during his recovery. 

“We know that he is strong,” Superintendent Roland Hernandez said. “He’s going to have every one of us on this entire campus and this entire school district’s prayers with him at all times.”

Ethann said that he felt a little better about his surgery after receiving all of the love and support from his classmates. He said he was excited “to be healthier and have more energy.”

Ethann’s surgery was a major success, and his recovery has surpassed his doctors' expectations.   Barbara excitedly shared the good news on her social media and thanked the community for all their support and prayers. She also thanked them for helping her family get through such a stressful time. She said Ethan looks forward to playing and running with his dogs and his classmates once he's fully healed.

PassItOn and The Foundation For A Better Life believe that Ethann’s caring classmates, teachers and community members are heroes. Their action personifies the value of community. They helped to ease a young boy’s fears and decreased his family’s stress with an outpouring of public support before his major surgery. Please help us celebrate these heroes by sharing their heartwarming story. 

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