A Pasco youngster has a new way of getting to doctor appointments thanks to donations and help from two Tri-City car dealerships.
Ethan Lolo Sarabia's parents had been looking for help repairing their 1998 Buick LeSabre or with getting a more reliable car. They got both after a recent Herald story.
Ethan, almost 2, was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor when he was 4 months old and already has had nine surgeries and seven months of chemotherapy.
He lags behind most children his age and is unable to crawl or walk. He still needs to travel to Seattle Children's Hospital for treatment.
His parents, Fernando Ramirez, 32, and Elizabeth Sarabia, 22, said they were worried about taking the Buick with 230,000 miles that they bought for $400 over mountain passes.
But Ramirez said BMW of Tri-Cities repaired the car before Ethan's Feb. 11 trip to Seattle and even included a tank of gas.
Sarabia can't work because of back problems, while Ramirez has to take care of his mother, who has cancer, they said. Ramirez has worked in landscaping but said he can't do that because of a benign tumor on his back.
They tried to get a newer car, but found they had too little income and credit.
"I figured we'll just keep looking, and when the right time is here, that will be our time," Sarabia said.
But that time came sooner than they expected.
Speck Hyundai in Pasco offered them a deal that will allow them to get to appointments in Seattle.
Speck was asking $6,999 for a 2002 Oldsmobile Bravada sport utility vehicle, but the dealership sold it to the family for $3,600.
They used money from the Ethan Lolo Sarabia Donation Account at U.S. Bank to put a down payment on the SUV.
"The car is beautiful, and everyone is so nice," Ramirez said.
The SUV is just four years newer than their old car, but Sarabia said it has dark windows in the back, which is helpful because Ethan can be sensitive to bright light. It also has plenty of room for his stroller.
"Wow, four years is a lot of difference," she said.
They've received about $1,800 in donations. Among those helping is a waitress at a local restaurant, who raised $700. Other restaurants and stores have set out donation jars.
Doctors gave Ethan a patch that he must wear over his right eye four hours a day as they try to treat his lazy eye. He will need more surgery if the patch doesn't work.
Another MRI exam is planned on their March 18 visit to check his progress.
"I hope we get good news," said Ramirez.
--Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; email@example.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom