ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Christmas came a little early for a group of New Mexico kids battling cancer.
On Sunday, Peter Piper Pizza in Albuquerque shut its restaurant down for two hours, so those children could play games, eat food and celebrate life.
“When they told us he had cancer our lives were turned inside out, upside down, backwards,” said Wendy Torres.
Steven Torres was just two years old when he was diagnosed with leukemia.
His mom, Wendy Torres, remembers the day she found out.
“Knowing he was so sick and that he might now make it, it was hard,” said Torres.
The Torres family turned to the Janet Vargas Memorial Children’s Cancer Fund for hope.
The memorial was started after a New Mexico Air National Guard’s daughter died of cancer.
Its mission is to turn people’s donations into fun and excitement for sick children and their families.
On Sunday, volunteers from the cancer fund held a special Christmas party at Peter Piper Pizza.
Kids got to sit on Santa’s lap, play games and chow down on pizza. Garcia’s Kitchen also catered the event.
“It’s all about love, it’s all about resiliency and it’s all about the holiday spirit,” said National Guard Executive Officer Brian Raphael.
For the Mares family, it’s all about celebrating life.
“If I was able to survive it, anybody can survive it, really,” said Joshua Mares.
Joshua Mares beat Lymphoma.
“It was right before Thanksgiving and Joshua was in kindergarten. He had some odd lumps on his neck,” said Joshua’s mom Jackie Mares.
Like Joshua, Steven is also cancer free.
The now 15-year-old, who has Down Syndrome, lives each day like it’s his last.
It’s something his mom said she is grateful for.