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PHOTO SUBMITTED BY VERONICA RENTERIA
Chili's Grill & Bar is having a fundraiser for 8-year-old Barstow girl Xena Janelle Begay at 38 locations across Southern California. Give Back Night for Xena Begay will take place at all 38 locations Feb. 4, with 15 percent of sales donated to Begay, who needs a heart transplant.

Chili's to hold fundraiser at 38 locations

8-year-old Barstow girl needs heart transplant

STAFF WRITER

BARSTOW • Chili’s Grill & Bar will hold a fundraiser Feb. 4 at 38 different Southern California locations to raise money for an 8-year-old Barstow girl who needs a heart transplant.

The family of Xena Janelle Begay, 8, needs to install a central air conditioning system at Xena’s home. Xena is currently off of the heart transplant list because the swamp cooler in the home could cause health problems after the transplant.

Chili’s is holding Give Back Night for Xena Begay Feb. 4 at locations including Barstow, Victorville, Palmdale, Lancaster, Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, Redlands, Santa Clarita, Monrovia, Hemet, Murrieta and numerous others across Southern California.

Diners can donate at any of the 38 Chili’s restaurants running the fundraiser, and 15 percent of all sales from customers who say they want to participate will go into a fund for Xena’s cause.

“The guests that come in that are supporting our event can bring in the flier or just say we’re here to support Xena Begay Give Back Night,” Son Huynh, general manager of Chili’s in Barstow, said. “We add those receipts up at the end of the night, all those sales from all the restaurants. Then we’ll donate 15 percent of those sales.”

Xena, who recently turned 8, was diagnosed with a stage cardiac disease at age 5 and has already been through two pacemakers. Neither operation improved Xena’s condition, and her mother Veronica Renteria is now trying to raise money to install the necessary central air system to get Xena on the transplant list.

“They said they have to take her off the list and put her on a temporary hold until we get that taken care of,” Renteria told the Desert Dispatch in December. “And once that’s taken care of she’s going to go back on the list and wait for her heart to come. But right now that’s the main thing holding us back.”

Chili’s is the latest of numerous local businesses that have stepped up to help Xena’s cause.

“This city is great when it comes to helping people,” Huynh said. “It’s one of the best communities I’ve seen that just comes out, and they go all out for their people.”

Renteria said that Xena’s positive attitude, smile and laugh helps keep her strong as the journey to get a new heart for her daughter continues.

“I sing,” Xena said. “I like to be with my friends. And I like to dance.”

“The thing that amazes me about (Xena) is that she is so much stronger than I ever thought she would be,” Renteria said. “She knows the situation. She’s asked me a lot of questions, and I’m really honest with her.”

For more information on Chili’s Give Back Night for Xena Begay, contact Son Huynh at 760-253-3700. To donate to Xena’s online fundraiser, visit www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/bnj3/xenasjourneytoanewheartandanewlife.



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