Child Cancer Patient Gets Priceless Surprise Thanks to TikTok
| LAST UPDATE 01/23/2023
Delilah Loya, a young girl from California, broke hearts worldwide when a clip of her wishing to be cancer-free for Christmas went viral. When one TikToker heard her story, he sought to make her dreams come true...
Power of TikTok
TikTok debuted in 2018 and immediately took the world by storm. The short-form video-sharing platform had everyone hooked as people sought to make their mark in the social media world.
As much hate as the app gets for encouraging unhealthy beauty standards and sending negative messages, there is a wonderful side to TikTok, where people hear others' stories and help out in whatever way they can. One person who benefited greatly from the charitable side of the TikTok community was Delilah.
Eight-year-old Delilah Loya is a young girl from Bakersfield, California. In 2019, at the age of four, she was diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma Cancer metastatic in 95% of the bone marrow. Doctors told her parents their daughter would have to fight for her life - and she's been doing precisely that.
Due to a genetic mutation called paroganglioma, Delilah was disqualified from any clinical trials and was forced to battle a more aggressive form of cancer. Ever since the diagnosis, she has endured hundreds of different medical procedures at the Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
"She's been through so much. But she's not that happy little girl anymore. She's not the happy little girl that she once was," her mother, Samantha Loya, told abc7. "You watch your child just fight for their life, every day of their life." The pain of the treatments had really started to take a toll on her.
Her mother told ABC7 that Delilah has always dreamed of being an archeologist or a doctor that can help sick children like her. She was described as "spunky and fiery," but as a result of the cancer treatments, she had not been able to be her true self. Sometimes, the pain meant Delilah was unable to leave her bed.
In a video uploaded by her mother, Delilah was seen being asked by her mom what her biggest wish for Christmas would be. "To be cancer free," she replied in a sweet, innocent voice. After having spent half of her life in the hospital, she just wanted to be out in the world like everyone else her age.
Like most heartwarming videos, the clip was shared far and wide across the internet, with many strangers truly invested in Delilah's journey and struggle. When this video reached the phone of one particular TikToker named Isaiah Garza, things took a remarkable turn...
A Special Visit
When Tiktoker @Isaiahgarza heard Delilah's emotional and inspiring story of faith and courage, he felt compelled to reach out to her. After getting in contact with the young girl's parents, they arranged a suitable time for him to come and visit her. He had to meet her in real life and congratulate her on her bravery.
Delilah was used to visitors coming to visit her all the time from different charities. So, when Isaiah walked into her hospital room in November 2022, she didn't think much of it. At that moment, she couldn't have known that he had the power to bring all her dreams to reality. So who really was this mysterious visitor?
The guest was a Californian Tiktoker named Isaiah Garza, a man with an incredible back story and dedication to helping others. Every clip he posted to his popular channel involved him doing a kind deed for a stranger. And each video went instantly viral.
A video of him asking an elderly man on the street if he wanted to join him on a trip to Disneyland racked up 17 million views as his followers were awed by the man's excitement at being there. But what many of his fans didn't realize is that Isaiah had a troublesome past that drove him to give back in this way.
Coming Full Circle
Phones, food, clothes, and money, Isaiah was seen handing strangers whatever was needed to cheer them up and potentially get their life back on track. "To build an actual connection and a heartfelt love for a human being, it makes me feel really good," Asaiah told CBS Mornings.
"I got kind of obsessed with seeing people happy and seeing the reactions on people's faces or are maybe living on the streets or struggling," he explained. But it's no coincidence that so many of Garza's recipients are homeless. "I myself was someone who struggled for so long," he revealed.
A Painful Past
As the son of two Mexican immigrants, Garza's life was difficult from the very beginning. "At one point, we got our house taken from us, and we had no money, and we had to sell everything. We were living paycheck to paycheck, and I was like, I'm gonna find a way to get out of here, and I'm gonna save the day."
Before landing a place in fashion school, Isaiah was forced to live on the streets of Downtown LA for a year. He told CBS Mornings that these tough years didn't break him but instead made him a better person and enabled him to do the good deeds he practiced today. "It gave me passion and drive," he explained.
Garza went on to become a successful jewelry artist, adored by hundreds of celebrities. With over 10 million followers, he secured deals with brands like KFC and raised money through GoFundMe for needy people. He also regularly used his own money to pay for these kind deeds.
When asked by interviewers what he wanted to do next, he had the answer thought out. "My goal is ultimately to become one of the greatest philanthropists of my generation. I want to build schools in third-world countries and build shelters. I think I was born to do this."
Behind Closed Doors
In line with his life mission, Isaiah wanted to get to know Delilah in an attempt to really understand what it was that would ease her pain. While he wished with all his heart that he could cure her, he understood that a material gift was the only thing he could realistically offer.
Sitting down by her bedside, Isaiah and Delilah began to chat for hours. Delilah detailed her health struggle and experience and also revealed her wishes and dreams for her life ahead. Wanting to give her the best gift possible, Isaiah paid close attention, hoping her words would spark an idea.
Through his various charitable endeavors, Isaiah built up many relevant contacts over the years. As soon as he met Delilah, he knew he wanted to utilize these contacts and do something extra special for her. Racking his brain on what would be the best idea, he finally settled on a plan.
Isaiah reached out to those managing the LA Rams and began to make the necessary arrangement and plans. He also ensured with the doctors that Delilah was able to take a break from her treatments and coordinated travel arrangements etc. It was finally time for Delilah to see her big surprise.
"Open your eyes!" the crowd told Delilah. Lifting the orange hat from her eyes while holding onto Isaiah's hand tight, she was taken aback by what was in front of her. The entire cheer team for the LA Rams was smiling at her, pompoms in hand.
As she walked through the line between them, the team shook their pompoms and cheered her on. Next, they took her onto the field during a game, where she was made an honorary cheerleader for the day, with a costume and all. She was even gifted a personalized locker! It was truly a sight to be seen.
Dream Come True
"This is the best day of my life," Delilah told KLTA 5. "I'm going to beat cancer because I'm really strong. This a dream come true!" she exclaimed. "I got to shake my pompoms, and they picked me up. It was so cool and so exciting. Don't ever give up!" she told the viewers.
Pictures and footage from the special day were aired on abc7, where the eight-year-old could be seen hugging Isaiah tightly. Audiences were emotional seeing the special bond that had developed between the influencer and Delilah. It was clear he would do anything he could to make her happy. And he wasn't done just yet.
Proud Mom Moment
"Words can't even describe the way we felt. Me and my husband we both broke down. To just see Delilah having fun is a blessing," Samantha told abc7. "It was so awesome to see her with other little girls her own age, older or younger having fun just like them with pompoms in her hand. It was just so nice to see her happy."
With all the uncertainty and unknowns involved with Delilah's treatment, this brief experience offered them a temporary sense of happiness and relief which they would always hold onto. "I know she's going to live a beautiful life," Samantha told abc7. "This is just one small setback, but she's going to be fine one day."
Hatching a Plan
Seeing Delilah's incredible response to the surprise, the TikTok influencer wanted to do something more. He couldn't explain why exactly, but he had a strong compulsion to try and make her days as positive as possible. But how could he possibly top the LA Rams' surprise?
He thought back to their first meeting in her hospital room, where the young girl had told him all about her hopes and dreams. Delilah had talked about all the things that make her happy. Replaying their conversation in his mind, he remembered one intriguing detail.
He remembered that Delilah had told him she had a favorite song - a tune she'd listened to every day since she had first been diagnosed and started treatment. It was her power anthem, a song that kept her going when times got tough. And she needed an extra boost of strength.
Everyone in the hospital knew it was Delilah's favorite song because, before each procedure and surgery, she would play it out loud for everyone to hear. By this point, every doctor and nurse knew the words by heart. The best part of the song for Delilah was that it already had her name in it.
'Hey There, Delilah'
The song was, of course, Hey There Delilah by the Plain White T's. The 2007 hit song was met with incredible success and praise, smashing charts worldwide. Landing itself at the number 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, the music video went on to garner 100+ million views on YouTube.
In response to this popular fanfare, the Plain White T's earned themselves a Grammy nomination for the hit song, and it sent the group into new realms of fame. The track meant a lot to millions of people across the globe... but it meant the most to Delilah.
A video of the surprise recorded and uploaded by Isaiah himself began with Delilah's nurse walking into her hospital room, telling her there was exciting news. "8-year-old cancer patient is about to get the surprise of a lifetime," the video's text read. The young girl had no idea what was in store.
"Hi, Delilah! … I have a surprise for you. It's a special video that the singer of Hey There Delilah sent for you! And he made it just for you," Isaiah could be heard telling Delilah in the video background. Upon hearing this, her eyes opened in shock and excitement. She had no idea the surprises were just beginning...
"What's Up, Delilah?"
Delilah watched as the video came on, her favorite singer appearing on camera and saying her name. She was stunned that he had taken the time to make this video, especially for her. "What's up, Delilah? It's Tom from Plain White T's. I hear you're a big fan of our song Hey There Delilah," he said.
"So I figured I would play it for you right now. Here we go," he continued before lifting up his guitar and beginning to play the first few chords of her song. But just as she was starting to calm down from all the excitement, it came to a sudden stop.
"Actually, you know what? I've got a better idea; hang on a sec," Tom said to the camera before disappearing. Unsure of what had happened, Delilah sat still, waiting for him to return to the screen. When the screen remained black, she grew more confused. What was going on?
Looking around the room for some insight, it was clear even her nurses were unsure of what was going on. Had something gone wrong? Isaiah didn't look too concerned, though, so perhaps that was a good sign. Then she heard a familiar sound, and her heart began to beat all over again.
Looking up in the direction of the sound, Delilah could not believe her eyes when she saw Tom Higgenson in the flesh walking through her hospital room with a guitar in his arms. He was playing her favorite song, Hey There Delilah, as he walked towards her.
She sat, stunned and surprised, watching the live performance from the comfort of her hospital bed. Tom pointed at Delilah as he sang, "you look so pretty, yes you do, and her gigantic smile took over her face... Times Square can't shine as bright as you," he continued to sing.
The Ultimate Send-Off
As Tom reached the song's chorus, the entire room began to sing in unions. Delilah, Isaiah, Tom, her parents, and doctors all joined in on the special moment. After all, they knew every word perfectly! It was an unbelievable moment none of them would ever forget.
"Hey there, Delilah, here's to you," Tom concluded the intimate performance, serenading eight-year-old Delilah directly. Then, when the cancer patient thought the moment couldn't get any better, her favorite singer gave her a big hug. Isaiah Garza had come to the rescue yet again.
A moment so beautiful and pure like this guaranteed no dry eye in the house. Delilah was overwhelmed with emotion, and so were the nurses. Every person in the room understood just how much this song meant to the eight-year-old patient, and tears filled every pair of eyes.
Immediately after, Isaiah uploaded the clip to his TikTok channel. "Delilah has been fighting cancer for over 4 years. During her cancer treatments, Delilah's favorite song has been Hey There Delilah - today, we surprised her with her dream performance at the hospital with her favorite song & singer," he captioned the clip.
Online Support System
Everybody who watched Isaiah's video couldn't get enough of the emotional story, filling up the comments section with words of support and admiration. "Hey there, Delilah!! What a fun surprise! Cheering for you over here in Nashville," one user commented. "This makes me weepy," another commenter admitted.
"Praying for you, Delilah! You are so precious! God has a plan and purpose for you!" a stranger cheered. "The reaction! Your smile lights up the entire room, Delilah! You've got this," a user penned. "Delilah, you gorgeous, strong girl! Going through cancer treatment must be scary. I am sending you a giant hug."
A Viral Moment
With the comments section filling up fast, it was inevitable that people would feel the need to send the heartfelt video on to their friends. Within days, the clip had reached all corners of the internet, turning it into a truly viral sensation with over 2.8 million likes.
News publications and broadcasters all reached out to the family and Isaiah, wanting to hear more about this beautiful story. When Delilah's parents caught word of the viral buzz surrounding their daughter's story, they had an idea to get the most out of their few minutes of fame.
The Loya family had been through a tough time dealing with all of the medical bills accumulated by Delilah's illness. For four years now, the eight-year-old had been undergoing rounds of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation, all of which bore high price tags.
In addition to the cost of the procedures, there were other costs putting the family under severe financial strain. The hospital was a two-hour commute away from their home in Bakersfield, so there were additional expenses of hotel stays and gas bills. The couple also had two other children to care for.
Extending the Gift
Delilah's parents decided to fundraise and ask the public to contribute toward their viral daughter's expenses. After reading the kind and supportive messages left by utter strangers on the video, they were confident people would want to do more to help.
As far as they were concerned, this was the best way to turn Isaiah's kindness into a longer-term gift, one which would ensure Delilah's health and well-being even once the buzz settled down. Isaiah informed the couple that he had recommended many of his recipients to do so.
Samantha Loya set up a GoFundMe account titled Save Delilah Love. In the page description, she went into extensive detail on Delilah's medical experience and diagnosis, hoping this would encourage people to donate. "Remember, absolutely anything helps," they concluded the plea.
In addition, the couple requested that the news channels publish this link when documenting their story and informing their viewers of the fund. As expected, the donations came flooding in. At the time of writing, the total on the fund reached a staggering $40,000 from 1300 donors.
We can learn so much from both Delilah and Isaiah, who have always remained positive no matter the troubles they have gone through. Delilah has spent over half her life in the hospital undergoing painful treatments and has done it all with a smile.
Isaiah used his experience of homelessness for good. Once he rose to the top and began mingling with celebrities, he could have easily forgotten those 'below him.' But no, he learned from his time on the streets and gained a real understanding of suffering. With this, he utilized his success to give back whenever he could.
The Journey Continues
And Isaiah's work is not done. He continues to make incredible, life-changing gestures for people like Delilah every day. Every few days, he uploads new videos of these surprises, displaying just how much these deeds mean to those he helps. Tears and smiles are regular features of his uploads.
But it's not just the strangers in the videos that are gaining so much from his actions. People all over the world love to watch him give back and take pleasure in seeing kindness being spread. With 8.1 million followers and counting, it's evident that Isaiah is doing something right.