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Family, friends come together to raise money for young B-N musician fighting leukemia

Family and friends came together Sunday at a fundraiser for Carlos Almanza, 19, a local musician who was recently diagnosed with cancer.

A man in a jacket plays a guitar
Latinos en BloNo
Carlos Almanza is a 19-year-old young musician and a member of the northern group Los Morros Del Bajio.

More than a dozen booths were set up in the parking lot outside Bloomington's St. Mary’s Church, where community members sold tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, tamales, and other staples to patrons who purchased tickets. A raffle for kitchen items also was held, and there was live music.

St. Mary's has long been known for holding both English and Spanish language church services, with a large Hispanic ministry. Latinos el BloNo helped promote Sunday's event.

Almanza was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia [AML] in March. He told WGLT the event raised money “to cover medical costs and any other expenses that come with this disease and diagnosis.”

“To me, it means a lot to have all these people come out and support us,” added Almanza, referring to his supportive family. “It’s not just me, but my family. And it feels good to have that support.”

In an announcement about the event, Latinos en BloNo said the diagnosis put a strain on Almanza and his family. His parents have taken time off from work and cared for his younger sisters, while taking him to his appointments both locally and in Chicago, and to organize his care.

Sunday's event was crowded early, with supporters of all ages coming out to eat good food, purchase raffle tickets, and to listen to the music.

It was an all-ages event, with many young families with children in attendance, running and playing and enjoying the food and atmosphere.

Booths selling Mexican food in the parking lot of St. Mary's Church raised funds for Carlos Almanza, who was recently diagnosed with cancer.
Adeline Schultz
Booths selling Mexican food in the parking lot of St. Mary's Church raised funds for Carlos Almanza, who was recently diagnosed with cancer.

Almanza himself was busy during the fundraiser providing the live music. He and his band performed for attendees as they ate and purchased raffle tickets.

“I think it’s about four years now that we’re going strong,” Almanza said about his band, a norteño group called Los Morros Del Bajio that Almanza plays in with his older brother Eduardo. Norteño is a subgenre of Mexican folk music.

Almanza said he was glad to be at the fundraiser playing music with his band, “just doing what I love.”

The Almanza family is accepting donations via CashApp and Zelle. Contact information for donations and other help can be found on Latinos en BloNo’s Facebook page.

Adeline Schultz is a correspondent at WGLT. She joined the station in 2024.