Kids First

Juan Carlos Frenes-Lopez

Finding support and giving back through Golisano

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Juan Carlos Frenes-lopez was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocyti­c Leukemia (ALL) two weeks after his third birthday and went through chemo for almost three years. During that time he endured complicati­ons and became sick; they had to pause chemo and then start it up again. “It was such a struggle, but Juan was always positive. He wouldn’t let it get him down,” recalls his mother Luli Lopez. He started school with cancer and his mom knew that could not be easy for her young son. It was a challenge. She chose to enroll him in North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts, where Juan Carlos excelled in the gifted program and learned to play both the violin and tuba.

When he was 7 years old, Juan Carlos went into remission. His port was removed in 2017, signaling he completed all treatments and was cancer free. Marking more than two years of being completely cancer free, Juan Carlos is now taller than his mom, is an offensive lineman for the football team, and has started band.

For the past year or so, his trademark has been his long hair. “Ever since losing his hair, he’s being growing it out,” says mom Luli. “His coaches and teammates all comment on his hair. His coach even jokes that if he loses focus on the field or gets a play wrong that he’s going to cut it.”

However, Juan Carlos told his mom he wouldn’t cut his locks unless there’s a really good reason. Clips for Cancer was that reason.

The young athlete participat­ed as a “sidekick” in last year’s Clips for Cancer, a Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida event to raise awareness and drive philanthro­pic support for local children battling the disease through Barbara’s Friends cancer fund. Juan Carlos knows what it’s like to live without hair, to go to school and be different. He wanted to help another child feel better. He cut his ponytail and donated it with the hopes that his hair will help a girl feel better about losing her own hair.

A real hero Juan Carlos not only helped shave his sidekick’s hair, but he gave up his own precious locks to make a difference in someone else’s life. “I’m so proud of him. He is such a good kid,” says his mom.

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