West Side mom whose young son died hit with new tragedy
SAN ANTONIO - Maria Barrientos was in the car with her 11-year-old son when she said a drunk driver took his life away.
“Never,” she said while speaking in Spanish. “My life will never be the same. Every day is sad. And it's very hard to move on without him."
Nearly 6 years after Bryan’s passing, Barrientos is dealing with another emotional punch to the gut. Her husband Enrique is sick in the hospital. The father of four needs a liver transplant to survive.
"He's their only means of financial support,” Claudia Alarcon explained. “And he's not working right now."
Alarcon taught two of her kids who attended Allen Elementary School on the West Side.
She knows the pain Barrientos is in. But she also knows about her huge heart. The two have become friends over the years. Barrientos has been a school volunteer for the last 12 years.
"And she's just always there giving it all for our school,” Alarcon told Fox San Antonio’s Ryan Wolf. “Always giving 100 percent. Whether it be decorating our school's Christmas tree, being part of our bilingual committee, decorating our bulletin boards or making copies she's always doing it with a smile."
Wolf said he never had a school teacher nominate a parent for the CASH FOR KINDNESS award.
"And we're excited to help you bring her some joy,” he told Alarcon. “So, thanks for reaching out!” Are you ready?”
“Ready!" she said with a smile.
The surprise unfolded outside Barrientos’ home.
"Oh my God," she said in Spanish.
Barrientos thought her friend was bringing school supplies for her kids. Wolf surprised her by the car.
“Maria?” he asked.
“Maria Barrientos,” she responded with a handshake.
“I'm Ryan Wolf with Fox San Antonio,” he said. “It's so nice to finally meet you in person. Claudia reached out to me. I'm going have her tell her why we’re here."
Alarcon reached out to grab her friend’s hands and looked her in the eyes before she spoke.
“I called Ryan because you've been through a lot already with the death of your son,” she said. “You've been through a lot. And right now, you're going through a hard time with your husband being sick. And you're always helping out at our school. We admire your strength and we admire how you always keep moving forward."
The 43-year-old stay-at-home mom said she's never been thanked like this before.
“No,” she said as tears rolled down her cheek. “I feel honored. I do it out of the kindness of her heart. And I don’t expect anything in return for helping out at her school."
Her kids, who surrounded her during the surprise, looked on with pride. All of them were in tears.
Wolf shared news of her CASH FOR KINDNESS award from Fox San Antonio. He handed her $1,000.
“Thank you so much!” she said.
Barrientos reached out to give Wolf an extended hug and said in Spanish, “I thought I was alone.”
Now she knows it’s not the case. There are people here to support her family.
Click here to nominate someone for the $1,000 CASH FOR KINDNESS award.