BYU-I students band together to help roommate

By Nate Sunderland

Post Register

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 27 2013 10:20 a.m. MST

"I was nervous about this and how I'd ever have enough time ... knowing just a fraction of the responsibilities we'd have if Cesar moved in," Rubio said. "It really was an act of faith ... and it became so much easier when we learned to really love Cesar."

The roommates help with virtually all of Ibanez's domestic needs — from cooking to personal hygiene.

Ibanez and his roommates had a hard time suppressing giggles when asked about helping Ibanez shower. The men take turns assisting Ibanez, and all admitted feeling a little awkward at first.

"I remember my first day being anxious, but Cesar is on the ball and he knows how to instruct and what to say to us," said Justice, a junior.

Soon, it became a routine full of lighthearted humor.

"The shower is pretty physical — there are no barriers, because there can't be"Ibanez said. "But the more you interact with the person that is helping you, the closer you get because it's an intimate moment. I know it sounds weird ... and we joke around a lot ... but we really have become closer."

Life with Ibanez isn't always lighthearted, though.

One night, when Ibanez was fighting a cold, his roommates awoke to find he could hardly breathe. They stayed by his side and administered medication until his strength came back.

"We've reached a point where we would drop anything to go to Cesar," junior Jake Christensen said.

The roommates are fearful of future nights like that. They're trying to raise money to buy a wheelchair-friendly van to transport Ibanez this winter, so he doesn't have to drive his wheelchair through the snow.

"It scares me seeing him go in the morning because I know how easily he could pick up a cold and it would have really big consequences," sophomore Gunner Christensen said. "That is why we need this van so quickly."

While living closer to campus could make things easier, Ibanez said he wants to stay with his roommates. His roommates say the same thing.

"After knowing Cesar for two semesters, I can honestly say that I love him like he's my brother," Jake Christensen said. "I can't think of a better way to start the day than waking up and helping someone. Cesar doesn't always greet you with a smile, but you always know he's grateful."

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