Kelly Barnes is amazed by many things these days.
Her 3-year-old son, Daniel Morrison, is suffering from a brain tumor, but still manages to call out her name in the morning.
She has found a strength inside herself that she can only attribute to God.
Saturday and Sunday, during carwashes to raise money for Daniel's treatments, she discovered just how much a community can care for a little boy they've never met and for a mother who's sole purpose is to fight for his life.
"The help and caring and kindness from people was just overwhelming," said an exhausted Barnes, 39, from her home Sunday night.
The two-day carwash and sale of root beer floats at the new Albertson's on North Carson Street raised $2,650. In all she and a handful of friends washed 101 cars and sold 70 root beer floats.
"Even when people didn't have time to wash their cars they would give me the money. They wanted to know where Daniel was, how he was. They wanted to talk to me like I was a real person and Daniel was a real person."
Barnes said she hasn't ever felt this much love in her life. She wasn't able to thank the management at Albertson's enough, the friends who volunteered their time, the man who made the signs free of charge, or the people who came in droves.
"It was phenomenal the way the people just came. They truly asked questions and they cared. My whole life I've heard I'm not a good person. I'm not a good mom. I've always heard negative. How could I take care of a child with cancer? I'm just learning so much through all of this."
Daniel was diagnosed in January with a brain tumor that was affecting the right side of his body. After a surgery, Barnes was told the doctors had only managed to remove 50 percent of the tumor. It was cancerous and had spread to his brain stem.
For two months she would make the journey to Sacramento, in a car that is falling apart with every mile, for chemotherapy doctors had prescribed for the next three years.
In June, she stopped the chemo and decided to look for an alternative to what she considered the poison they were pumping into her son's tiny body.
"I had to stop. I was just watching him get sicker and sicker and it just made me ill. Every time I knew they were pumping poisons in him. I started gungho researching everything," she said.
Barnes finally found a doctor in Beverly Hills who would help her care for her son naturally.
"I really, truly, in my heart don't believe Daniel would survive three years of chemo every week. He's just little. He'd be blind. He'd be deaf. I've met chemo moms who've radiated their kids and they are wearing hearing aids and taking growth hormones because they don't grow anymore," she said.
Now, she spends three hours a day in the kitchen preparing foods for her son that are proven cancer fighters, such as fruits and vegetables. She is trying to rid his body of all the medication he's taken in the short time since his diagnosis.
"He needs fresh food daily. I need to do something about a freezer because if I find a good sale I can juice everything and freeze it. I need to do something about a better juicer. I cannot buy his organic stuff, but there's some days he doesn't get what he needs because I don't have any money," she said.
Then she laughed lightly, a reference to the daily challenges she faces, from research to food prep to doctor's appointments, all on a poverty level budget. Barnes quit work because Daniel became her full time job.
But every day she said she manages to pull herself out of bed.
"A lot of days I find it very hard to be all happy and joyful. But in the mornings
I am so happy when I wake up because he's calling out to me and I say, 'OK, he's still here. He's calling my name.'"
When Daniel was diagnosed, doctors told Barnes he had about five years to live. She doesn't know what that means now, but hopes an MRI in September will reveal that the homeopathic treatments have been working.
"If it works, I'm gonna tell the world," she said cheerfully.
And so in the interim, until the MRI in September, Barnes is focusing on Daniel's diet and making what days he has left the best that she can.
"My strength is coming from God. I pray all the time for strength and for courage and wisdom. I didn't know how I was going to do this and sometimes I feel like I'm going to go crazy and think I can't do this, but I just keep going. It's my job to make a difference to him, so I have to because he can't fight for himself. If I'm not on the ball, he's going to miss out."
YOU CAN HELP
Send a tax-deductible donation to Angel Kiss Foundation in the name of Daniel Morrison, 150 Ridge Street, Ste. 3 , Reno NV. 89501. For information about Angel Kiss call 1-888-589-KISS (5477)