CHICAGO (WLS) -- The family of a young man who died from a rare brain disorder honored his life on what would have been his 18th birthday, by making a trip from Texas to Chicago to help a family like theirs in need.
Before now, the Pantoja family and the Aguilar family had never met. But now, their lives are forever forged by a unique bond after this San Antonio family generously donated medical equipment and supplies that allowed their son, Dylan, to live a better, longer life.
"We made sure that he enjoyed life like any other child could," said Itza Pantoja, Dylan's mother.
They found a Chicago family wanting the exact same for their 11-year-old boy, Felipe, who was born with cerebral palsy and is quadriplegic.
"When I saw them, I felt like my son was hugging me and I retracted so many years of what I went through," Pantoja said.
When Dylan was born, he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus and pulmonary stenosis and doctors gave him six months to live.
"As a mother, I couldn't take that information," she said. "I couldn't accept it because of the many times they told us he was going to die, and he didn't."
For what equipment insurance didn't cover, his family raised money on their own.
"In his total life, Dylan had about seven wheelchairs, and only two of them were covered by the government. The rest we had to pay out of pocket," she said.
Thanks to his family's determination, Dylan surpassed doctors' expectations by 16 years. To commemorate what would have been his 18th birthday, his family searched for others in need. It led them to ASI Home Services on the Northwest Side of Chicago, who connected them to the Aguilar Family and Felipe.
"The generous donation from the Pantoja family has given to us so much," said Karina Aguilar, Felipe's mother. "It is much more than just something to help Felipe's life be a little easier. It is a show of kindness and solidarity for a family mourning the loss of their own little one."
The Pantoja family personally drove tens of thousands of dollars of medical equipment and supplies from San Antonio to Chicago.
"Driving out to Chicago, two times, and giving up all this equipment to help other needing families like ours is a most selfless sacrifice," Aguilar said.
But it's a sacrifice Dylan's mother knows her son would approve of, knowing it could give another family the hope and happiness they had with their son.
"I'm so glad. Thank you so much and I know Dylan is smiling," Aguilar said.