sffd_officials.jpgAfter a fundraiser on Tuesday, San Francisco firefighters and community members have nearly raised the funeral and burial costs for a Modesto family that lost their son to leukemia only two days before Christmas.

Through community outreach, a fundraiser at Don Ramon’s Mexican restaurant in San Francisco, and collecting donations at the San Francisco Fire Fighters Toy Program headquarters, program chair Sally Casazza estimates that they have raised nearly $7,000.

But funeral costs may exceed the $7,000 initially estimated, and the firefighters have extended their goal to $10,000.

The fundraiser at Don Ramon’s raised nearly $2,000 for the family, and Casazza said that one good friend of the program took to the streets to tell the young man’s story and raised over $5,000 himself.

People continue to stop by and drop off donations in person, and some checks are still coming through the mail.

The funds will help pay for the funeral and burial of Enrique Yocupicio, 15, who was receiving treatment at the University of California at San Francisco’s Benioff Children’s Hospital while his family was staying at the hospital’s Family House on nearby Irving Street.

Several weeks ago, a social worker from the hospital’s cancer ward contacted the San Francisco Fire Fighters Toy Program and asked if the firefighters could bring some toys to the hospital for Enrique and his brothers, said Jill Peeler, one of the coordinators of the toy program.

“Of course we got some toys together,” she said.

While they were there, the firefighters heard Enrique’s story and met his mother, Marcela Yocupicio.

“Once we met her, we knew we couldn’t just leave the toys; we knew we had to come back and help,” Peeler said.

She said Enrique’s mother, father and four brothers–ages 10, 12, 13 and 19 — were all staying at the Family House.

The father wasn’t working in order to be with his son, and the 19-year-old–a bone marrow match for Enrique–had dropped out of college to donate bone marrow and support his brother, Peeler said.

“He basically extended (Enrique’s) life,” Peeler said.

Despite all of the efforts to save him, Enrique died Friday, two days before Christmas.

“While everyone else is celebrating Christmas, they’re worried about burying their son,” Peeler said.

She said the firefighters, who had been visiting Enrique daily, had grown close to the family and are trying to raise money to pay for his funeral and burial.

Enrique’s funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Duggan’s Serra Mortuary at 500 Westlake Ave. in Daly City.

Dan Duggan, of the family that owns the mortuary, donated $400 toward the service, and Mark Fontana, of Colma tombstone maker V. Fontana & Co. has donated a headstone, Peeler said.

In the meantime, firefighters and others have been working in other ways to lighten the family’s burden. Peeler and some other firefighters have been taking Enrique’s brothers on outings, and the 19-year-old, who wants to become a police officer, did a ride-along with the Marin County Sheriff’s Office.

Those wishing to donate money can send a check–with “Enrique” in the memo line–to the San Francisco Fire Fighters Toy Program, 1139 Mission St., San Francisco 94130.

Donations can also be made by visiting www.sffirefighterstoys.org and clicking on “Donate.” Donors can note that the money should go toward Enrique’s family.

Scott Morris/Melissa McRobbie, Bay City News

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