LARGO - Joy filled the hearts of Largo firefighter Jorge Rodriguez and his wife, Maeva, as they welcomed their daughter Meilee eight and a half months ago.

What You Need To Know

  • Meilee was diagnosed with brain injury, cerebral palsy

  • Largo Fire Rescue has become extended family

  • A raffle fundraiser hosted by the Largo Firefighters Union is set for May 1

  • More Pinellas County headlines

Fear also settled in when she was diagnosed with a brain injury and a severe form of cerebral palsy. 

"Her doctors pretty much said she would never be able to walk and talk," said Maeva. "With all of the help and support from everyone, we know we can give her a better fighting chance."

The Rodriguez' say when doctors doubted their effort for their child -- the Largo Fire Rescue became their extended family and the support system they needed. 

"Advocate for your child as a parent," adds Maeva. "You can't listen to everyone when they tell you to give up!" 

​The family sought after specialists and intensive therapy for little Meilee. 

"A few months ago before we started certain therapies she couldn't even hold her head up," she said. 

Jorge says they struggled to keep up with the treatments Meilee will likely need for the rest of her life. Some therapists are not local, so the family ran up travel and hotel expenses to care for their daughter. 

"A lot of those therapies aren't covered by regular health insurance," said Jorge. 

The Largo Fire Rescue started a fundraiser to assist. 

"Pretty much the whole department has been involved," he added. 

The couple is also raising three sons and say Largo firemen have gone well beyond their call of duty. 

"They have babysat our boys when he was on shift. They have been extremely supportive," said Maeva. 

A raffle fundraiser hosted by the Largo Firefighters Union is set for May 1, 2021.