Big outpouring for Irondale student who lost both parents

When his dad, Rey, died in the spring of 2015, Sam Heras, a 17-year-old, had to give up football at his Irondale high school to help support his mother. They’d been notified they were losing their house. No time for games.

“When we found out, it was already stage 4,” Heras told Fox 9 last week. “So we couldn’t figure out what it was. It was pretty hard because he was everything to me.”

Last week, his mother, Isabel, died.

Says Fox 9:

Sam’s mom lost her health battle just a couple days ago. Now on his own, grieving again, Sam is supporting himself and he refuses to miss a shift at the Chili’s restaurant in Roseville. His big brother and football coaches say they’re so proud of the man he is turning into.

“He has taken everything in stride,” said Steven Heras. “Nothing knocked him back. Some people, things happen and they think, ‘oh poor me.’ They go in a downward spiral. But Sammy keeps moving forward.”

Vince Calistro, Sam’s position coach on the Irondale football team, added, “I don’t think 99 percent of people, let alone a 17-year-old could handle the situation as well as Sam. I couldn’t handle it. Yet he comes to school every day smiling.”

On a GoFundMe page, set up by his co-workers at the Roseville Chili’s, people are doing that thing they do. The original $5,000 goal was eclipsed by more than $40,000 in donations.

But people are doing even more. They’re volunteering to be Sam’s new family.

Yesterday, students at rival Totino-Grace dedicated their Halloween-themed day to raising money for the student from rival Irondale, raising another $2,000 for Heras, Fox 9 says.