An Arizona boy beat cancer but he still can't go home, because his parents spent so much money on his treatments that they can't pay to fix their broken air conditioner. That was until a friend reached out to CBS 5 News to pay it forward to the boy and his family.
For the past year, Rene Ybarra has been working constantly in the kitchen at St. Joseph's Hospital, and spending every dime he makes to save his stepson, Mario Marino.
"The bills, they just come in and come in, and we just put them aside. My wife doesn't want to open them. She says, 'right now our priority is just our son,'" Ybarra said.
That's the way its been since last September, when Marino was suffering from severe body aches that they thought were a side effect from a concussion suffered playing football, but a trip to the doctor revealed something much more severe.
"I can never forget that moment she said, she goes, he has Leukemia, and she started crying," Ybarra said.
Doctors started chemotherapy treatments immediately that weakened Marino's body to the point where one night his blood pressure couldn't be stabilized.
"It was just times where his eyes were rolling back, and it looked like he was just like, like he wanted to leave us," Ybarra said. "In my mind, I said, 'God, he's in your hands.'"
Mario Marino pulled through that night, and since then he's done extremely well.
"As of right now, I have no cancer cells in my body," Marino said.
But he and his mother can't move out of his apartment at the Ronald McDonald House, until the air conditioning at his home is fixed.
It broke last month during the hottest time of the year, and estimates for repair range around $5,000.
"I was actually on Facebook and I saw CBS 5 on the side and I thought, 'Pay It Forward - I'm always watching it' and I thought, 'why not, you never know,'" said family friend Patricia Vasquez.
Vasquez awarded the family with $500.
"When you told me about your son and being sick, it totally touched my heart," Vasquez told the family.
Cool Blew AC repair company in Peoria is also generously helping the family.
Marino's football playing days are probably over, but he said his love of the sport is still just as strong and someday he wants to coach or be a broadcaster.
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.