UPDATED OCTOBER 1, 2019
I received the following update from Team Ari today:
“She’s free!!! No more cancer!! No more doctors!!”
“Our beautiful baby girl has fully embraced her Lord Jesus. She is completely healed and restored, running on the soccer fields of heaven. Our girl gets the honor of looking on the beautiful face of our savior!!! How awesome is that!!! Please, please, please don’t tell us you’re sorry. Ari wanted us to make sure people didn’t say sorry but get saved for Jesus. We’re not sorry. We’re grateful for God trusting us with this trial. We will allow beauty for ashes and purpose for the pain, for the moment our baby girl breathed her last breath she breathed her first in heaven. She’s free!!! No more cancer!! No more doctors!! Our girl lives in glory and splendor. Praise be to God our father who is still good no matter what.”
About a year ago, Aria Villalobos was playing in a normal league game with all of her friends. Her IE Legends team was having a great game, but Ari’s vision became blurry and she was feeling dizzy.
She was pulled out of the game out of an abundance of caution. Ari didn’t seem to need immediate medical help. Nobody felt the need to call an ambulance, but her parents took her to urgent care to have Ari checked out. Once they got to urgent care, doctors rushed Ari to the ER. Tests were run. Scans were made of Ari’s brain.
Every parent’s worst nightmare
Then, every parent’s worst nightmare came true. Doctors found a mass in her brain a size of a tangerine. Once the biopsy was done, she was officially diagnosed with inoperable Stage 4 Glioblastoma.
“One of her teammates asked ‘Why Ari?'”
Team manager, Marvellee Diaz, told me, “Ari is one sweet girl. So lovable and has a huge heart. One of her teammates asked ‘Why Ari?’ She is just an awesome person and she doesn’t deserve this! Ari had just started High School and made the JV team. She never got to play with them. Her dad did take her to go watch them play last season.”
IE Legends rally around Ari and her family
Ari is still fighting, and her Legends family is fighting along with her. The soccer community is strong, and Ari’s team is a prime example of the way soccer brings people together. Last week, at their league game, all of the girls wrote “#ARISTRONG” on their arms before their game:
“The bigger the moment always led to Ari’s best.”
Ari’s coach, Anthony Gomez told me, “First, I would have to say she comes from an incredible loving and dedicated family. Which is, by no accident, why she is such a great kid. Ari was a captain on the soccer field for us. She always led by example. Ari was a very hard working, extremely competitive player. To save the best for last, the bigger the moment always led to Ari’s best. She never backed down. Ari always showed up in those big games. This team has been together for a number of years under a few different clubs. Her family is so dedicated and loyal, and I consider myself lucky to of been around them. They are the kind of people who I would do anything for at the drop of a dime.”
If you would like to help Ari in the fight of her life, here is the GoFundMe set up for her and her family.
All of us here at SoccerNation and Soccerloco are #AriStrong! Keep fighting, Ari!