Mesa teen supports family after mother dies, father suffers heart attack

Posted at 10:54 PM, Jan 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-15 01:02:20-05

The community is coming together to help a struggling family and a Mesa teen who has taken on more responsibilities than any high school senior should.

Four years ago, Tristan McDannel, 18, lost his mother unexpectedly and shortly after his father, Bradley McDannel, suffered a heart attack. 

"I was literally spending days in bed...and, um, it was freaking Tristan out," Bradley said.

With his father unable to work, Tristan knew he had to get a job to keep his family afloat. After leaving class at Desert Ridge High School, the teen works 60 hours a week at a Mesa call center.

Friends and neighbors have helped alleviate some of the stress by bringing over meals and offering some cash, but it's not a permanent solution. 

"He's trying as hard as he can and he knows that uh, that you know I've been going through a lot, he's going through a lot, and we've been there for each other," Bradley said.

Now, the father and son are trying to figure out what will happen if Bradley's life is cut short.

"We've talked about this and we've what about 'what if,' and it scares the crap out of me," Bradley said.

But for Tristan, that's not an option. He'll do whatever he can to keep his father healthy. 

"I would donate my own heart to him if I needed to — if it got that severe," Tristan said. "I know it would kill me, but I would, though."

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help alleviate some of the financial stress on Tristan.