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Students Become Caregivers For Roommate With Special Needs


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A college student who needs help with everything from showering to dressing and even getting out of bed is receiving all that and more from a group of devoted friends turned roommates.

Cesar Ibanez, 28, has spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic condition that leaves his muscles weak. Despite being told that he wouldn’t make it to adulthood, Ibanez is now a biology major at Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho with dreams of one day treating his own condition.

During his first semester of college, Ibanez lived at an assisted-living facility. But after bonding with a group of six other guys who tell the (Idaho Falls, Idaho) Post Register that he’s routinely one of the funniest people in the room, Ibanez’ friends convinced him to move in with them.

None of the men had any caregiving experience and Ibanez’ roommates admit that it was an adjustment at first taking on the role full-time and without pay.

“I was nervous about this and how I’d ever have enough time … knowing just a fraction of the responsibilities we’d have if Cesar moved in,” roommate Trevor Rubio told the newspaper. “It really was an act of faith.”

But now the guys say they would drop anything for their friend. When Ibanez had a cold and struggled to breath, they nursed him back to health. And the men admit to worrying about Ibanez when he leaves the house in the morning since they know what could happen if he were to get sick again.

“After knowing Cesar for two semesters, I can honestly say that I love him like he’s my brother,” roommate Jake Christensen told the Post Register. “Cesar doesn’t always greet you with a smile, but you always know he’s grateful.”

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Comments (6 Responses)

  1. Drena says:

    Awww… That is so sweet of those men! I’m touched to read it.

  2. Barb says:

    What an uplifting article! Courage to try something possibly out of their comfort zone and big hearts are making this possible. I hope there are other stories like this that we just don’t know about. This is inclusion
    at its best!

  3. Patty Sprofera says:

    Wonderful report.

  4. Marge says:

    Love this story! That’s what all of us parents of special needs kids want…friends for our children who accept them for who they are regardless of disability. This is why I push so hard for inclusion in schools…kids learn acceptance from an early age. My daughter has down syndrome but I hope the friends she is making now in elementary school will not abandon her in middle and high school. God bless these young men!

  5. Debra Goodrich says:

    I enjoy hearing inspirational stories like this. People with a disability deserve a chance.

  6. Mary T says:

    This truly tells me that the Spirit is alive and well in the hearts and souls of those fine young men! God has certainly blessed them!

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