Community comes out to support Vázquez family

Magaly Vázquez said her brother had big dreams. He wanted to go to culinary school and travel the world, learning about different cultures. He enjoyed cooking dishes for his family, especially chicken, she said.

It seemed fitting that Saturday, his family cooked for him.

Carlos Vázquez, 19, died Tuesday of pneumonia after a two-year struggle with leukemia. He played football at Costa Mesa High School and graduated in 2011.

But for much of Saturday, sounds of laughter and lots of homemade Mexican food filled a Costa Mesa courtyard during a fundraiser to help pay for Carlos Vázquez's funeral.

By noon, Carlos Vázquez's sister Teresa Vázquez, 26, said more than 100 people had come to the fundraiser — which started at 9 a.m. — in the 1000 block of Mission Drive.

People stood in line, reading a menu taped to an umbrella, where the necessary toppings were spread about on a table below. Pampazo, arroz con pollo, tacos, nachos, huaraches and pozole were all available for $1 to $2.50. Teresa Vázquez said the family needs around $10,000 to pay for her brother's funeral.

The cooking didn't stop until 7 p.m.

Carlos Vázquez's little sister Jessica Vázquez said she was happy with the turnout and thinks her brother would have been happy, too.

"It's surprising. I didn't know all these people care, " Jessica, 12, said. "It's nice to know they care about our family."

Magaly Vázquez said her brother had a few wishes about his funeral.

He told his social worker that he wanted to be cremated and some of the ashes to be placed inside necklaces for his family to wear.

"I want my family to carry [a] piece of me all the time," Magaly Vázquez, 23, was told he said. She said he wanted the rest of his ashes to be spread in the mountains, where he liked to go hiking.

Harbor Trinity Church, about a mile from the Vázquez home, also held a car wash for Carlos Vázquez on Saturday.

Merri Tyler, a resident of Costa Mesa, said her daughter was good friends with Carlos Vázquez and even shared the same birthday. She said she couldn't explain it, but that created a special bond between him and her daughter, Yazzy Valdez.

Tyler said the support the family has received is a testament to their son's character. She recalled turning around at the memorial service, shocked and humbled by the amount of people who showed up.

"Even people that worked at the grocery store came," she said. "He was loved by everyone."

A funeral is planned for Carlos Vázquez from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Funeraria Del Angel MacDougall Family Mortuary, 1610 E. 1st St., Santa Ana.

Twitter: @joannaclay

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