Photo Credit: Ron Medvescek

By Zack Rosenblatt - Arizona Daily Star

On Gil Garcia’s hand, written in pen between his thumb and index finger, is a number — 6,219.

The next day it will be 6,220.

“We don’t count years,” Gil says. “We count days.”

That is, days since his son Camden was born.

As Gil speaks, his 6,219-day-old son is at wrestling practice. Camden is one of Mountain View’s best wrestlers, with a 29-9 record in the 120-pound weight class. Next week, he’ll wrestle in sectionals.

But that’s next week.

Gil reminisces. On the bench next to him is a photo album with pictures, mostly of Camden.

And two books that include excerpts about Camden. And two letters from third-graders, written for Camden. And six or seven metal crosses, welded together by Camden.

Gil shuffles through about 40 photos and stops at a picture of his son, lying in a hospital bed, asleep, a toy car beside him.

It was 2002, summertime.

That was the year Gil Garcia started counting days.

It was the year doctors found a tumor in Camden’s brain.


One Friday when Camden was 5, Gil took him and his brother, Kenny, on a quad ride, as they had done many times before.

“He’s a gear head,” Gil says.

A few days earlier, Camden started having fleeting headaches.

A few minutes here, a few minutes there.

On Tuesday, the headaches worsened, so Gil and Carol, Camden’s mother, took him to the hospital, and doctors ran a few tests.

They didn’t find anything. It might be allergies, the doctors said, or the barometric pressure change related to the impending monsoon.

“We figured he was just playing too much Gameboy,” Gil says.

The following Friday, Camden started throwing up. Carol and Gil took him to University Medical Center.

After more tests, the doctor told Gil and Carol that Camden had a tumor in his cerebellum, at the back of his brain.

It was slow-moving, but the Garcias had to move fast.

By Sunday, Camden was in surgery, as his family — Gil, Carol, Kenny; his sisters, Annika and Megan — sat in the waiting room.


Fast forward eight months, and Camden sat alongside the Garcia clan — father, brother, sisters and mother — in their very own stretch limousine.

It took them through a tunnel, and came out at the other end in the midst of Texas Motor Speedway.

Camden stuck his head out the sunroof, as did his siblings, and they hooted and hollered.

Camden had made a wish, and it had come true.

He loves cars — racing them, maintaining them, rebuilding them. He loved them before his surgery, and he loved them even more after. Especially since, for nine years, he wasn’t allowed to participate in any contact sports.

Instead, he raced and worked on dirt modified cars with his dad. Some nights he’d be out until 2 in the morning, working on the cars.

So when he was given the chance to “make a wish,” he said he wanted to meet Jeff Gordon. The Make-A-Wish foundation made it happen, providing an all-expenses-paid trip of a lifetime for Camden and his family.

“The best part was..."

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