Carter Lee Lopez was born four months early in December, at only 24 weeks. He weighed just 2 pounds, before scarily dropping down to 1 pound, 11 ounces after his kidneys shut down.
"I was told that he might not survive," mom Breanna Lopez recalls. "That was the scariest day of my life, the thought of my son not surviving a day to see the love this world would bring him."
Amazingly, Carter did survive. But a long journey lay ahead for both the tiny little boy and his parents Breanna and husband Robert, a military pilot—and it got even worse in February, when their car broke down and they weren't able to secure a loan to buy a new one.
So they've been relying on on the kindness of family and friends for rides to see their son in the NICU ever since.
Just imagine, for a second, the heartbreak of not being able to see your child when you wanted to. Of having to turn to others every time you wanted to just be able to stand next to his incubator or touch his teeny, tiny hand. It's an agonizing circumstance—one no parent should ever find themselves faced with.
Which is why the Fox 5 Surprise Squad teamed up with Nissan and America First Credit Union for an amazing undercover mission to help bring some light into the lives of this beautiful, struggling family.
Here's how it all went down:
As a Lopez family friend named Jody drove the Breanna and Robert to the hospital to visit Carter reporter Cassandra Jones sat shotgun, pretending to be girl named Sara. Breanna shared the family's gut-wrenching story with her during the ride.
"You don't think it's going to happen to you," she told Sara. "And then it does."
When the car finally pulled up to the hospital and the Lopez' got out, it was clear the couple had no idea their lives were about to change. But then "Sara" suddenly jumped out and followed Breanna and Robert into the lobby with a microphone. "I'm actually Cassandra Jones with the Fox 5 Surprise Squad," she told them excitedly.
Before Jones could even get another word out, both parents immediately burst into tears (confession: so did I). "We are all very all touched by your story," Jones told them, sounding more than a little choked up herself. "We know you guys have been through a lot and we have something for you."
The reporter then led the couple back outside... and up pulls a brand new 2015 Nissan Sentra, complete with a big red bow!
So. Amazing! And a huge game changer for Breanna and Robert. "Just to have people who support us, who care this much, it really means the world," Robert said.
"I was scared of not having anything to take him home in, or to his appointments or anything," Breanna explained through tears. "And now we have it all. We have everything."
After 133 long days, Carter finally came home, and the whole family appeared on Fox 5 this morning to share their story of love and strength. They also got one more unexpected surprise from FOX5's parent company Meredith Corp (who also own Parents.com)—$1,000 to cover the cost of diapers!
Watch the video above of this amazing story—believe me, you won't want to miss it.