Teenager raises money to support himself after parents pass away within a month of each other

Justin Chan

A New York City teenager has launched a fundraiser to support his college education after both of his parents died a month apart, the LIC Post reports.

In March, Roberto Tobias Jr., a 17-year-old resident of Astoria and a rising senior at Frank McCourt High School in Manhattan, contracted COVID-19, along with his family. According to his GoFundMe campaign, his father, 72-year-old Roberto Tobias Sr., was the first to come down with the virus and was a diabetic and heavy smoker. Roberto added that his mother, Loida, a nurse who was also a diabetic and experienced hypertension, was particularly vulnerable.

“Over the span of a few weeks, my father’s health began deteriorating and my mother used her vacation days to take care of my father,” the 17-year-old wrote. “She’s a nurse and naturally, she wanted to help our father and ensure that he would hopefully recover from this.”

Sadly, the teenager’s mother also fell ill.

“This eventually would lead to the virus spreading to the rest of my family and we would be in poor shape for weeks,” he explained. “Unfortunately, my parents took the brunt of the virus and they eventually were hospitalized due to their conditions worsening. Although the chances were slim, my sister and I had hope that they would recover and eventually be discharged, but they, unfortunately, ended up passing.”

Roberto’s father, who immigrated from the Philippines and eventually became a bartender at the World Trade Center, passed away on May 30. The high school student’s mother, who was the head nurse at Harlem Hospital Center, passed away on June 30.

As a result, the teenager now has little to no income to lean on. With his GoFundMe, he hopes to raise enough money to continue his education past high school.

“My realization of my dreams came from inspiration from my parents, learning my true passions, and the discovery of what I wanted to pursue in my life,” he wrote. “When I enter college, I want to study [pre-med] and go on to medical school to pursue a career as a neurosurgeon.”

As of July 22, the teenager has raised nearly $69,000 of his $100,000 goal.

If you’re considering donating to other causes, consider helping Chinatown businesses that are struggling during the pandemic.

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