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Good Samaritans who helped family trapped in burning apartment now facing challenges of their own

Teenager diagnosed with Leukemia
Posted at 9:12 PM, Oct 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-20 00:25:22-04

AURORA, Colo. -- Three and a half years ago, they helped save a family trapped in a burning apartment.

Now the Good Samaritans are the ones who need a little help.

It was Easter Sunday, 2016.

Reyna Rodriguez and her children had spent the day at her father's house.

On their way home, they stopped at the 7-Eleven, at 26th and Federal, so the kids could spend the money they got from the Easter Bunny on a few treats.

"All of a sudden I heard screaming," Rodriguez said. "I started running toward the (Federal View) Apartment building."

She saw a couple yelling from a third floor window.

"The woman said, 'help me, save my baby,'" Rodriguez said.

Smoke was pouring from the window.

Rodriguez and her teenage son, Richard Medina, sprang into action.

The young teenager ran to a nearby fire station and began pounding on the doors.

"The firefighter that came out was like, 'what's wrong,'" Medina said. "Then he saw there was a fire."

Ms. Rodriguez grabbed a blanket then yelled at two men nearby.

"I was like, come on, grab this, let's save the baby," she said.

The baby's parents, Chris Pena and Aylessa Miera, tossed the toddler down.

One of the men holding a corner of the blanket, Lee Velez, told Denver7 that he ended up catching the baby with his bare hands.

After tossing the toddler down, the parents then jumped themselves.

Miera suffered a broken back during the jump.

Rodriguez said she covered the injured woman with a blanket and kept her company until ambulance crews arrived.

The Good Samaritans later became good friends with the couple whose baby they helped save, and later learned they are related to them.

"We're related through my Auntie's side," Rodriguez said, "through her husband."


Now, it's Rodgriguez's son who is in the hospital, battling Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

He just had his first round of chemo.

"It's making me cold," Medina said. "I'm really cold and weak. People know me as Richie 'Strong,' you know, so it's just really a shocker."

Rodriguez, a mother of 8, said it's a struggle to help Richard and still raise her other kids.

"Times are hard," she said. "As a family, we don't have a vehicle to get to and from the hospital, and he's the oldest of 8 kids so it's a real trial, but we're getting through it."

"It's overwhelming," said Medina's grandmother, Barbara Segura. "All we can do is just stand there by him, support him and just love on him and just pray. When he says, Nana come pray with me, I'm there."

The rest of the family is doing what it can to show support.

Medina said his hair has fallen out from the chemo treatment, so family members cut their locks off.

"The girls shaved halfway," Rodriguez said, lifting the back of her hair to show a close crop just above the neck. "The guys shaved all the way."

Rodriguez told Denver7 she was in the right place at the right time during the fire and with her son's illness she feels "our angels are still with us. They never left us and they'll continue to be with us."

Help for the Family

Friends have set up a Meal Train to organize meal giving for the family and to help with donations.

"I want to thank everyone who has reached out to help," Rodriguez said. "We've met a number of people going through the same thing we are. It's very heartfelt. It gives us courage and strength because we see their success, and that's what we want."

Medina told Denver7 he was scared the first few days in the hospital.

He said he will likely miss his Prom next Spring and may not be able to graduate with his classmates, but he said that's okay.

"I just want to get better," he said. "I just want to be home."