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7Everyday Hero Daniel Alvarado collects toys for Children's Hospital Colorado

Cancer Fighters to the Rescue
Posted at 8:53 AM, Jan 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-15 10:53:24-05

AURORA, Colo. -- A simple toy may seem like a little thing. But for a child in the hospital, toys can bring some much needed smiles and distraction. 

"Like me and my mom always say: 'One toy makes a difference,'" said Daniel Alvarado. 

This is the eighth year for Alvarado's toy drive for Children's Hospital Colorado. He calls it Cancer Fighters to the Rescue. 

"It started in 2010 when my brother was diagnosed with leukemia," Daniel said. 

Daniel's brother Diego spent a lot of time at Children's Hospital. 

"Probably two or three years we were almost every week in here, with treatments and going through chemotherapy," said Ruth Gonzales, Daniel and Diego's mom. 

After treatment, Diego was declared cancer free and became an intern at Children's Hospital. 
Then, just before Christmas 2016, his cancer came back and Diego died. 

"As a family it was hard," Gonzales said, fighting back tears. 

The family was shattered. But they ended up leaning on Daniel, who remembered Diego's strength when life got tough.

"He fought through cancer like it was nothing," Daniel said. 

"We were thinking Daniel was going to be like: 'I'm done.' But he actually told us: 'No, we're going to deliver and get it done,'" said Ivan Alvarado, Daniel and Diego's father. 

"And this year he said: 'Mom, get ready because I am doing it. I'm just going to do it again,'" Gonzales added. 

Each year, Daniel writes a letter to the community, asking for donations. Daniel read an excerpt of the letter for us.

"I lost my brother, Diego at age 20 on December 17th, 2016. There will be many mixed emotions running through my body, but mostly I will be happy knowing that I will keeping my brother's legacy alive," Daniel read. 

What started as a few friends collecting a couple hundred toys is now Daniel Alvarado's months-long mission that provides more than 3,000 toys that Children's Hospital can use year-round. 

"He knew he needed to do something for them. He is special," Gonzales said. 

"For us, it's Diego's legacy will live on not only in us but in the community and in the hospital and most importantly in his brother," Alvarado said. 

Mitch Jelniker anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30 to 7 a.m. He also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on 7NEWS. Follow Mitch on Facebook and Twitter. Nominate a 7Everyday Hero here.