BUCKEYE, AZ — The Buckeye community got together Thursday to help a high school senior struggling after his father passed away from COVID-19.
They held a car wash at the Buckeye Union High School District Learning Center, and all donations were given to his family.
Daniel Valdez and his father Rodrigo were nearly 50 years apart, but the 18-year-old said they were inseparable. His dad was his best friend.
"We'd go on walks or jogs, go camping in the RV. Just me and my dad. We'd do everything together," said Valdez.
They loved being outside--working on his dad's truck, riding ATVs, or road-tripping.
"The weekends, now they feel empty, we used to have so many things going on, it's really hard," said Valdez.
Rodrigo went home to Mexico when his mother got sick and ended up getting COVID himself. He passed away there, and Daniel never got to say goodbye.
He said his father was the hardest worker he knew. He was a cowboy who loved spending time with his son.
"All his friends call him a warrior because he was nonstop. He had more energy than I did," he said. "You'd never see him with shoes on. He usually has boots on like me. His cowboy hat and stuff. We're like country boys."
Thursday, students from the BUHSD and partners washed cars for the Valdez family.
"Knowing that it's his only source of income and knowing the struggle the family is going through--this is something that needed to be done," said Bryan Roque, who helped organize the car wash.
Valdez said he was grateful for the help, feeling the love from students, parents, strangers, and even the Buckeye Fire Department that stopped by with donations.
"It's been nonstop, constant. People in and out, the support of the staff, the students, family. Everybody came together as a community and we're all here to help and support," said Roque.