A community’s character emerges when it must respond to a tragic occurrence.
There is no better recent example of Waltham’s support for its neighbors than the outpouring of support for Alex Cabrera, who was seriously injured in a pedestrian accident on May 17.
Family and friends have flocked to help Cabrera and his family — making bracelets, videos, posters and displaying other support for the Cabrera family in the wake of the crash.
Cabrea sustained a serious head injury after a car struck him while he was crossing Lexington Street. Cabrera, 15, is an eighth-grade student at John F. Kennedy Middle School.
Supporters have turned their sorrow into a bright light for Alex. Michael Thibodeau, a classmate and friend of Alex, said he is building Alex a new skateboard. Others have made posters with supportive messages to hang in school, according to Kennedy eighth-grader April Landry, another of Alex's friends. The posters read, “Stay strong Alex.”
Parents have also assisted the Cabrera family. Thibodeau’s mother, Jen, said she, along with other parents, have taken turns bringing the family dinner as they spend much of their time at Alex’s side at the hospital.
The outpouring of support came amidst Alex’s supporters’ struggle to cope with the incident. Jenny Cabrera, Alex’s mother, was in shock immediately after the crash, according to Paul Manganelli, Jenny’s partner.
“She was devastated,” said Manganelli, a Waltham Police officer.
Thibodeau, along with Nathan Aucoin, another of Alex's friends, said they have missed Cabrera's constant joking in class and sense of humor. The pair frequently skateboards with Alex at the skate parks on Moody Street and Lexington Street. Aucoin made a YouTube video of Alex, wishing him well.
“It’s weird without him” Thibodeau said. “You could be having a bad day and he would put a smile on your face.”
With the community greatly interested in Alex’s condition, Jen Thibodeau, Michael's mother, has been updating Kennedy principal Jack Cawley, who has been passing the information on to students. Also, Manganelli has been updating others on a Facebook page set up to support Alex. Those updates have kept supportive messages coming.
“Everyone gets so excited to hear that you're progressing each and every day [and] that's a relief to everyone! Keep staying strong, our prayers are still with you until you come back home fully recovered! We love [and] miss you Alex,” wrote Facebook user Trixie Bernardd on the Facebook page.
The support for Alex has filled family and friends with optimism for Alex’s condition and eased the burden of the ordeal, according to Jenny Cabrera. Cabrera said she also has also had help from another source.
“It’s a miracle from God,” she said of her son’s condition.
Currently, Alex cannot accept visitors to his hospital room, but Manganelli is hoping he can once his condition improves and he is taken out of the pediatric intensive care unit.
For now, however, the Waltham community is staying by the Cabrera family’s side.
“It’s going to take time [for Alex to recover],” said Jenny Cabrera.