Brownwood girl Journey Chairez was a photogenic 3-year-old, beaming for photos with friends and family members any chance she could.
“Always smiling, all the time. She loved to take pictures,” said cousin Stacey Bastardo. Those close to Chairez, who succumbed to a brain tumor April 22 after nearly a year of fighting its growth, say you almost “never caught her unhappy.”
Members of the downtown Brownwood gym Fitness On Point and family members choked up and shared an embrace with each other after giving a poignant sendoff for Chairez on a recent weekday evening by releasing 100 purple balloons — her favorite color — into the sky.
Fitness On Point instructor Madison Green helped organize the emotional tribute. Though she never met Chairez, she said the thoughtful act was part of who she is.
“I just love to always help people out. This idea just popped up in my head and we decided to go with that,” said Green, who helped raise medical funds last year at the former gym, T’Day’s Health Fitness, while Chairez was being hospitalized.
“It doesn’t surprise me that [Madison] would do an act like this,” said Veronica Chairez, Journey’s aunt and friend to Green.
Fundraisers at the former Brownwood gym weren’t the only ones that aided the family’s medical bill for the toddler. A local motorcycle gang named Oilpatch Drifters helped organize a weekend hamburger sale last year. Donations were also accepted year-round.
However, after the tumor was surgically removed in August of last year, it grew back at a “rapid” pace and ultimately led to her unfortunate death.
The family said it felt good to see friends help honor the child in a moving fashion.