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GEOFF FISK, DESERT DISPATCH
Xena Begay, 8, and her mother Veronica Renteria received the news last week that Xena has been placed on the heart transplant list. Renteria had to install a new central air conditioning system in her home before Xena could be placed on the list.

Community rallies to help 8-year-old

With installation of air conditioning unit, Xena Begay is placed on heart transplant list

STAFF WRITER

BARSTOW • Eight-year-old Xena Janelle Begay is finally on the heart transplant list, as a group of local businesses and individuals have worked together to install the necessary fixtures at Xena’s home.

Xena’s mother, Veronica Renteria, received a letter from Loma Linda University Medical Center last week informing her that her daughter was now on the list to be eligible to receive a new heart. She could not be put on the list until the swamp cooler at Renteria’s home was replaced with a central air conditioning system.

Thanks to the donations and labor of numerous local businesses, the job is done, and Xena’s home is now equipped with the necessary central air unit.

“There are no words to explain how it made me feel, the way everybody just came along to help,” Renteria said. “At first nobody knew about it. I didn’t think about getting the word out there. I thought it was my problem only.”

Barstow-based H & B Refrigeration, owned by Jim and Donna Eichler, oversaw the installation of the unit, and the finished job was a product of numerous people coming together. 

“We did all of the labor on the unit, the duct work, the inside stuff, the gas line,” Jim Eichler said. “We did most of the labor — that’s what we donated.”

The roof unit and a majority of the duct work were donated by High Desert Air Ductor in Ridgecrest, owned by Jerry Newbury. 

CED Electrical donated the wire to hook up the unit, and Curran Electric also donated electrical work and wire.

High Desert Refrigeration, out of Barstow, provided a crane for the job, while Barstow Industrial, Victorville-based Aircold Supply and Salinas Electric and Plumbing all donated equipment or labor.

“It was just unbelievable how quickly and how many people jumped at the chance to help this girl out with what she needed to get back on this list,” Jim Eichler said. “And these people just jumped at the chance. Everybody I asked said, ‘What do you need? Let me know when you need it.’ ”

Renteria also has received more than $4,000 in direct donations on the Give Forward fundraiser website.

Local businesses also have helped the cause with various charity events for Xena. Chili’s in Lenwood was the center of an event called “Give Back Night for Xena,” which raised $1,700.

Mollie’s Pub in Barstow, with the help of Charles “Chuck Diesel” Warren, raised money with a charity comedy show in January, and Apple Valley-based charities Mommies Helping Mommies and Baking for Charities helped out with a bake sale.

“Once the article was in the paper I just was receiving help from everybody,” Renteria said. “It felt wonderful because this is something that I can never repay everybody for helping me. They really did it all from the bottom of their hearts. And they literally gave my daughter a gift from the heart.”

Renteria said that with Xena back on the list, the call for a new heart could come at any time.


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