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Maria Chavez's Fundraiser:

Breath of Fresh Air

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Maria's Photo


Maria Chavez


Double Lung transplant

By Heather A. Resz
Published on Thursday, November 11, 2010 9:19 PM AKST

A Celebration of Life

At the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, we encounter people across the continuum of their lives.

For some local people, we have printed their birth announcement, the news that their sports team won state, their graduation announcement from high school, their wedding announcement, news of their 50th wedding anniversary and their obituaries.

Often we write people in the midst of terrible life circumstances.

Such was the case in November when we met Dennis and Maria Chavez. Dennis needs a double lung transplant and needs help affording the $30,000 in related costs that won’t be covered by insurance.

We told their story in words and photos in the Nov. 12 edition of the Frontiersman.

From the notes old friends and students Dennis worked with at the Job Crops Center in Palmer left on our reader comment boards and on our Facebook page it is clear that the Chavez family is a well-loved part of our Valley community.

We were glad for the chance to tell their story and give their neighbors a chance to offer help.

Then last week we received news from Maria that left us with heavy hearts and tears in our eyes.

In the month that has passed since we ran the story about her husband’s need for a lung transplant, doctors have diagnosed her with stage-four bone cancer and lesions on her brain.

The news made us want to drop everything and drive home to hug our families and not let go.

In the days since we heard the news it’s been tough not to view our day-to-day experiences through the lens of the Chavez’s struggle. Everything looks different viewed through the lens of life and death.

Funny how the tailgating driver with his bright lights on doesn’t matter at all when we remember Dennis and Maria.

And who cares what you get for Christmas if you think this holiday will be your last with your family?

So many things just don’t matter when you strip life down to its basics, life and death.

Stories like this family’s make us slow down and take inventory of our blessings.

Too often we all lose track of what’s important. Too often we forget none of us are here forever.

When we see the phrase “Celebration of Life,” mostly it shows up in obituaries.

We encourage everyone to use the lens of this family’s experience to sharpen your focus and make each day a Celebration of Life.

With heavy hearts we remember Dennis and Maria Chavez and their children and grandchildren this holiday season.

We are honored to count you among our neighbors and we are blessed to be counted among your friends.

In order to be actively listed, Dennis must be within four hours of the Mayo Clinic and be on call 24/7 in the event new lungs become available.

“Leaving Alaska is hard,” Dennis said. “Leaving the kids and grandkids is even harder.”

There are several ways to help:

• Donate cash to Matanuska Valley Federal Credit Union, 1020 South Bailey St., Palmer, “FBO Dennis Chavez,” account No. 128642.

• Or, mail donations to the family at Dennis Chavez Benefit, 1360 Woodcrest Drive, Wasilla, AK 99654.

Contact Heather A. Resz at or 352-2268.



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Maria is working on selecting a charity so you can support Breath of Fresh Air.