Hondo Owls rally around star football player in ICU; benefit Saturday

You could hear the sound of relief in the voice of Mr. Robert L Gonzalez Jr, this afternoon, as he gave an update on Hondo varsity football player, Robert J Gonzalez, III, who is battling Covid in the children’s ICU. After six days of not eating, and needing heavy hi-flow oxygen to breathe, the 16-year-old is finally smiling and able to walk around a little again, even lifting weights with physical therapists in the ICU, always preparing for that next football game under the Friday night lights he loves so much.
“The prayers are working. My son is smiling and getting his strength back,” Mr. Gonzalez said, adding, “He is one of the biggest, healthiest kids on the team. We never expected it to hit him like this. With as healthy as he is..When it dropped my baby boy like that, I was like what can covid do to other people? It scared me. It gave us a run for our money.”
This all started two weeks ago, Friday.
“We had gone to the scrimmage in Poteet, and from that day on he started saying he was feeling dizzy and achy, especially his back ached. We thought it was just the heat. He did okay a couple days, and then on Sunday, my wife took him to the ER to get tested. But they said it would take 5 days to get the results. Before we got the results, on Wednesday, he started getting really nauseous. Thursday, he started going down on us. By Friday he was feeling really bad, and was laying in bed watching the football game when he fell asleep. Around 3 am, we heard him and we ran in there and he was just shaking and gasping for air. He said ‘Dad I can’t breathe.’ With the chills and sweating, he was soaking wet like he was swimming.”
EMS arrived and transferred him to Methodist Children’s in San Antonio.
“They put him on oxygen and they kept having to use more and more, each time he had a coughing fit. It got to the point where he was on a very high amount of oxygen and vapotherm,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “He was also having chest pains, so the doctor said he might have possible blood clots in his chest.”
In the middle of all this, Robert and Maria’s daughter came up positive too.
“What my son and daughter told us when we started video chatting, that’s when I just really broke down,” Gonzalez said, with a crackle in his voice. “They didn’t even want to see each other, because she said ‘I don’t want to see my brother like that.’ And meanwhile, he was telling my wife, “I don’t want to see my sister like this in here.”
Thankfully, today, doctors and nurses delivered good news that no one expected so fast.
“Today (Wednesday, August 1), has been a really good day,” dad said. “They have been able to lower my boy’s oxygen more and more to 10L at 40%. He ate a hamburger today, and that was good to see. He hadn’t eaten in 6 days.”
“He went from the worst to.With God’s blessing and prayers, he is recovering dramatically,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “Compared to 24 hours ago, the doctor said, it is just amazing. My boy went from barely being able to move and not eating anything, to smiling and getting his appetite back.”
“He is a great kid. He is the kind of person who would give you the shirt off his back,” said dad, who can’t wait to see his boy again.
Thankfully, mom is right there by Robert’s side, but only one parent was allowed.
“She wasn’t about to let her baby boy out of her sight,” Gonzalez said, glad that she is fully vaccinated and that he too had gotten his first shot, so they can be there for the kids (one sick at hospital and one sick at home). “Knock on wood, even having the contact that we had, neither me or my wife has gotten sick. That’s another miracle.”

Gonzalez is on the road to recovery.

RG3, as the Hondo Owl football team affectionately calls him, can’t wait to get back on the field and neither can his teammates and fans.
“He hated missing that last game when was sick, and I feel sorry for the quarter back of the opposing team when he gets back in the game, because there’s going to be a lot of sacks!” said dad, his #1 fan, with a smile.
Benefit sale at Barry Stadium
The community has rallied together and is hosting a benefit plate and dessert sale in Hondo this Saturday, Sept 4th at Barry Field parking lot for the Gonzalez family. The $6 wrap, chips and drink bags and bake sale will be from noon til sold out. The family has faced many tough circumstances, with severe tornado damage to their apartment back in April, to going back and forth and staying in hotels to care for sick kiddos this August.
“The way the community came together.we are so grateful to the whole community. They are angels. They don’t know how much it means to us. I could never put it into words,” Mr. Gonzalez adds. “And those football moms, they are all watching over him as their own.”
If you are unable to attend the benefit in person, but want to make a donation you can reach out to Shannon Zepeda on Facebook or mail a donation to Robert Gonzales at PO Box 2208 14th Street, Hondo, TX 78861.
By Kayleen Holder