KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A year after experiencing tragedy, one family came together on Thursday night to cheer on Sporting Kansas City and have fun with one another.
Last February, a crash along I-435 near State Line Road claimed the lives of two young sisters, one-year-old Teresa Vazquez and seven-year-old Ruth Vazquez.
The crash, which also injured their two brothers, happened after the family’s car broke down on the highway and was rear-ended by a truck.
One year later, the injuries the boys received can still be seen.
Nine-year-old Jairo now has a prosthetic leg while his 14-year-old brother, Aron, walks with a limp.
“You should not be burying one of your children. In this case, we buried two,” said family member Mauricio Leon. “It’s nonstop therapies and pain.”
Following the anniversary of the tragedy, the Vazquez family got to experience some joy on Thursday night at Children’s Mercy Park.
In a Concacaf Champions League bout, Sporting KC took on Toluca, the home of where the family grew up in Mexico.
While the children’s father dressed in red for the Mexican side, the rest of the family supported the home team.
Soon after arriving, the family got to tour the field while watching both teams warm up.
Minutes later, they were greeted by goalkeeper Tim Melia.
Melia signed Jairo’s prosthetic leg, which he got adorned with the Sporting KC logo.
For his uncle, seeing the family’s reactions provided special moments.
“You wonder if they were ever going to make it out of the accident and now seeing their smiles,” he said, his voice trailing off as he looked at the boys.
The meeting at the game came to be after Jairo was visited by Melia at Children’s Mercy Hospital as he recovered from his injuries in the crash.
On Thursday, Jairo’s brother said seeing Melia again brought joy.
“I don’t know how to describe it. I just know it’s really special,” said 14-year-old Aron Vazquez. “Just meeting the players here with my little brother, it’ll be in my heart for life.”
After seeing the family go through so much over the last year, Mauricio Leon said the night provided special memories.
“Tonight, somewhat we try to find a little bit of a happiness just to enjoy and experience this,” he said.