South Florida

South Florida Man With Terminal Illness to Take Trip Of His Dreams With Mother

It's a story of faith and love, of incredible ups and far-reaching lows.

A South Florida 20-year-old who isn’t expected to live much longer is set to take the trip of his dreams, all thanks to loving friends, family and the generosity of complete strangers.

“It’s a long time dream of mine to go to New York City with my mom,” said Mario Toranzo.

Toranzo will spend his 21st birthday at the Statue of Liberty with his mom Ileana by his side.

Doctors say it will more than likely be the last birthday the two will ever spend together.

“It’s a trip we've always wanted to take, the two of us,” he said.

Toranzo’s life has never been easy. He suffers from Leigh Syndrome, a terminal illness that affects one in 40,000 newborns. Most children do not live beyond the age 10.

But Toranzo has defied the odds by a long shot. He’s known as the miracle child.

And while time has never been on his side, doctors now say his condition is quickly getting worst and he may not live much longer.

“Unfortunately, in the last 2 years is when Mario's condition took a turn for the worst,” said close family friend, Inez Romaguera.

It’s at that point that Romaguera decided she would make Toranzo’s ultimate wish come true.

"Two years ago, when he was in the ICU on a ventilator, I made him a promise and that promise is I’m going to help you get to New York," Romaguera said. "I didn’t know how to do it at the time.”

It didn’t take long for Romaguera to find someone that did know how.

Mercy del Castillo took Toranzo’s incredible story of survival and dream of visiting New York to the internet, setting up a GoFundMe fundraising site in February.

“We were able to raise funds and here we are today,” del Castillo said.

This past Sunday she presented Toranzo and his mother Ileana with the generosity of complete strangers -- more than $12,000 to make his dream a reality.

“The overwhelming response from folks that do not know Mario has been, to me, life changing to know that you have people out there in the world that do care,” del Castillo said.

Doctors have cleared Toranzo to fly and say its now or never. The $12,000 will cover all of the medical equipment he needs to travel.

“I’m so happy,” his mother Ileana said.

It’s a bittersweet moment for the fiercely protective mother, who will go to the ends of the earth to see her son happy. She knows this Mother’s Day will likely be the last one spent with her son.

“Thank you everyone, thanks to everyone for making this dream happen,” Toranzo said.

While doctors say Toranzo’s lungs have already slowly started shutting down, it’s not clear how much longer he has to live. But he has plenty of fight left in him.

In fact, he’s already thinking of ways to make his next big dream come true -- meeting his idol Pitbull.

“I’m 20-years-old, I wasn’t even supposed to make it to three so I would have the time of my life if you came to visit me. Dale!” he said.

Toranzo’s mother Ileana has had to quit all three of her jobs to take care of her son.

That, along with paying for around the clock nurses and medication has drained the family financially.

They said any money left over from the GoFundMe account will help pay for Toranzo’s care.

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