We first featured Nico Castro three years ago when he was a very ill 6-year-old. He was recovering from a brain tumor measuring a little more than four inches in diameter. In the throes of his illness — in true superhero fashion — Nico wanted to help others. At the time, Nico was undergoing five days of cancer treatment. His wish was to be Batman for Halloween and go trick-or-treating. But things got tricky and bittersweet when doctors granted him a day off from treatment to enjoy his favorite holiday.
He told his Mom and Dad he was sad because the other kids in the hospital didn’t get to dress up and go trick-or-treating. He wanted to bring the spirit of Halloween to the kids. We got the bat signal and helped him bring Halloween to those kids. Grab a tissue, here’s what happened when we told his story:
This little Halloween hero with a big heart asked his parents if they could buy costumes and treats for the kids in the cancer ward. “I was sad they wouldn’t have candy,” Nico explained. His mother Marlene and her husband Raul Castro were moved by his thoughtfulness, however, it would be impossible to buy costumes and goodies for the more than 50 sick kids in the hospital. The family took a big financial hit after Nico’s diagnosis.
Nico knows what it feels like to have to sit on the sidelines during the holidays. In November 2011, instead of celebrating, he was in the hospital too ill to take part in the festivities. He was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, cancer of the cerebellum. But during this scary time, all he could think about was if he would be healthy enough to celebrate Halloween.
Nico and his family took action and started a costume drive. At first they received about 20 costumes. This Go Inspire Go story activated more heroes across America:
It’s amazing to see how the community comes together when they’re given a healthy dose of inspiration. After meeting Nico, I quickly realized his superhero power is inspiring people to expand their minds, be more compassionate and to open their hearts. Donations and kind acts poured in, including superhero capes, goodie bags filled with toys, balloons and more. Nico’s efforts resulted in donations more than 200 costumes and about $1,200 in cash.
“We were so surprised from the support outside of our community. The community really came together and packages of costumes are coming from Pennsylvania, Illinois and Texas,” Raul, Nico’s dad said. “The costumes, the little trinkets that the kids in the beds are getting…just an instant and it changes their demeanor and whole attitude about being sick.”
▪ Today, Nico in stable condition and cancer-free. He is coping with the residual effects of the treatment that have affected his cognitive learning. He was pulled out of his school and was put into a special school for students with mild to moderate learning disabilities. Marlene says Nico isn’t happy about being in a different school. “He cried the first day and wants to be back at his regular school with his old friends.” Their goal is to get Nico’s cognitive learning up to speed so he can return to his regular school.
▪ Nico’s mother describes him as having become very empathetic toward other kids who are not the average child as a result of his illness. “He’s very aware of the differences in people,” she said.
▪ Last year, we gifted Nico with a puppy. He and his siblings love Lucky and fight over getting to sleep with him. He’s a calm dog who brings love to their home.
▪ Marlene believes in the power of prayer: please pray for Nico’s health and general well-being. “He gets emotional,” Marlene said. “Why did God have to give me cancer? I just want to be Nico, not Nico the cancer patient.”
▪ Raise awareness for childhood cancer and support research to end this horrid disease: Volunteer, share this story, make a donation. Marlene recommendations organizations that give 100 percent of the proceeds to the cause like St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, St. Baldrick’s Foundation and Juliana’s Journey Foundation.
▪ Nico continues to collect costumes and Halloween goodies for his goodie bags every year. This year’s 50+ costumes will be delivered to Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center in Santa Clara, Calif.
▪ Marlene is searching for treatment to improve his cognitive learning. Resources she’s found are expensive. If you or anyone you know is a specialist in this field, please email us at [email protected] — superheroes activate!
More Stories About Nico Castro:
▪ Boy, 6, with Brain Cancer Brings Halloween to Sick Kids
▪ 6-Year-Old Halloween Hero Quadruples Goal, Brings Holiday Spirit to Sick Kids
▪ Cape Crusaders: Empowering and Honoring Young Superheroes