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Red Deer Spanish community helping cancer victim without coverage

Red Deer’s Spanish community is pulling together to help a Mexican worker who is facing cancer without health-care coverage due to federal cuts.

A fundraising event, open to the public, will be held at St. Patrick’s Community School today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., featuring traditional food from El Salvador, Colombia and Mexico.

Food will be served on site, with deliveries available.

Money raised will go to Gabriel Yanez-Zuniga, 33, who is supporting three young children and his wife in Red Deer.

He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in October. His surgery is scheduled for Tuesday at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

Yanez-Zuniga came to Canada five years ago as a refugee claimant with an open work permit with his wife and daughter. The couple have since had twins.

Since they arrived, their application for refugee status has been denied, making them no longer eligible for health-care assistance under the Interim Federal Health Program.

An application for humanitarian and compassionate consideration for permanent residence status from Citizenship and Immigration was also refused in July.

An appeal to Citizenship and Immigration will take time.

Yanez-Zuniga, who works for WM Wyntjes and Sons Farm Ltd. near Red Deer, is using savings to pay about $3,500 for his surgery. It may cost more depending on how long he needs to stay in hospital.

He may also have to pay for radiation or chemotherapy if needed after surgery.

Staff for Red Deer MP Earl Dreeshen told Yanez-Zuniga that Dreeshen couldn’t help.

Yanez-Zuniga said he is still waiting to hear back from Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne and Red Deer North MLA Mary Anne Jablonski.

Selvin Morales, who is a member of the local Spanish community organizing the fundraising event, said donations will also be accepted for Yanez-Zuniga.

Today’s menu will include pupusas, El Salvadoran stuffed tortillas.

“Every family is welcome. We’re going to have something for the children, probably a little dancing,” Morales said.

St. Patrick’s Community School is at 300 56 Holt St.

For more information, call Morales at 403-392-2801.



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