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Car show benefits Ceres boy
diego sanchez
The Connecting Points Church of the Nazarene held its annual Cruzin Car Show benefit Saturday with proceeds going to assist Diego Sanchez and his family. - photo by Photo contributed to the Courier

The Connecting Point Church of the Nazarene in Denair hosted its fifth annual Cruzin' Car Show Benefit on Saturday to raise funds for a young disabled Ceres boy.

The proceeds from the car show will go to help Diego Sanchez and his family.

At five months of age, Diego was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy. It is a genetic disorder that causes muscle atrophy and weakness. Children with SMA type 1 have no muscle control, so they cannot hold their heads up, sit up, walk, crawl, reach out, kick, eat, drink or breathe on their own. Diego must rely on a feeding tube and a ventilator to keep him alive.

Before turning one year old, Diego was put into hospice care and his family was told he would likely die within eight months. But Diego had other plans and continued to grow and thrive mentally. He celebrated his sixth birthday this year.

"He's a happy boy," said Diego's mother Blanca Sanchez. "He's very strong and hasn't been in the hospital for four years."

Diego enjoys going to the zoo, watching cartoons and spending time with his family, said his mother.

It is estimated that children with SMA require close to $1 million in medical expenses each year due to their around the clock care.

The SMA Foundation estimates that one in 50 Americans are a carrier of the mutation that causes SMA, but that the gene is recessive and doesn't show any symptoms. Both parents have to be carriers for the disease to be passed on to a child. One in every 6,000 to 10,000 children born in the United States have SMA.

Last year's recipient from the car show was the Goeppert family of Turlock, who used the funds raised to purchase a wheelchair accessible van.

The car show was at 3200 E. Monte Vista Ave., in Denair, and featured food, vendors, a raffle, a kids play area, and of course vehicles of all makes, models and years. Admission to the show was free, though donations were accepted.