NewsUplifting Arizona


Street vendor overcomes challenges while helping uplift the spirits of others

Posted at 7:45 PM, Sep 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 22:45:22-04

Sebastian Ibañez is legally blind and partially deaf, but that's not holding this Mesa man back from anything.

If you live near the corner of Inglewood and Center, you may have seen him selling brooms, mops, popsicles and more. What many people don't know is all the challenges he has had to overcome.

“It would be very traumatic and difficult and very frustrating if I sat down and focus on it,” expressed Sebastian Ibañez.

His wife was recently diagnosed with Thyroid cancer. Even though she is a U.S. resident, AHCCCS denied her medical coverage.

“When I married my wife, I didn't expect the government to support me. I asked for help, but if they said no, I have to go on,” said Ibañez.

So, he now must take trips to doctors in Hermosillo, Mexico, the only place he can afford treatment. He never gives up, but medical bills are piling up which has added more challenges.

“Oncologist appointments, Endocrinologist appointments, I mean all the different specialists that my wife has to see, everything is expensive,” added Ibañez.

Taking his wife to doctor appointments in Mexico requires a 12-hour round trip and paying it all out of pocket. Even still, he does it all with a big smile.

“When people say, ‘hey aren’t you angry with your life, your destiny? you’re blind and now you're half deaf and you’re struggling with this and that?’ said Ibañez.

“No, I think God has given me a lot of tools, a brain that works. If God decided to give me a wonderful family it is because he thought I could handle it, so if he thinks I can handle it, by all means, I can handle it,” expressed Ibañez.

Not only can he handle it, but he can adjust to anything. When it’s hot he sells paletas or Mexican ice pops when it’s cold he sells blankets. During the pandemic, he went from selling brooms and mops to selling masks.

Now, to pay for his wife’s medical expenses, Ibañez has once again reinvented his business. He now auctions items imported from Mexico on Facebook Live.

“I have always been the type of person that if life gives you lemons you make lemonade, but I do laugh at my life and I don’t let life laugh at me and that’s an attitude that people should have in their life,” stated Ibañez.

Despite the pandemic, rent hikes and now his wife's cancer diagnosis, Ibañez keeps finding ways to reinvent his business, support his children, pay for his wife's treatment and spread hope.

Reporter: “That’s so inspiring, the way that you see life, Sebastian. Have you always been like this?”

“I was better looking before,” said Sebastian as he smiled.