Tom Hargrove of Warren knows what it’s like to have a child receive care at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

Hargrove said he was scrolling through the Midcoast Message Board on Facebook and clicked the link to the story The Courier-Gazette posted about 4-year-old Aaliyah Carballo and her fight with cancer. She was diagnosed with neuroblastoma Nov. 17. The little girl, whose family lives in Waldoboro, has a long road of treatment ahead and has been receiving chemotherapy at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital.

Hargrove’s daughter was born seven weeks early and for a month, while his wife stayed in Portland with their newborn, he traveled between Portland and the Midcoast daily trying to keep things running at home and be in Portland for his family. Hargrove owns C.A.R.S. in Rockland – Certified Automotive Repair & Sound. He wouldn’t have been able to do that without reliable transportation and felt for Aaliyah’s parents, who were dealing with car trouble on top of their daughter’s cancer diagnosis.

“I understood what they were going through– to be in that situation where you don’t know what’s going on from day to day – and wanted to step up and help,” Hargrove said.

He messaged Aaliyah’s father, Todd Carballo, and made arrangements to get their vehicle back to Rockland and make the repairs.

The 2004 Cadillac Escalade needed quite a bit of work, Hargrove said, and didn’t have a current inspection sticker. What Carballo had thought was a radiator leak was a coolant leak from the water pump. It also needed wheel bearings, a fuel pump and new brakes. Hargrove contacted two local parts dealers – the Rockland Autozone store and O’Reilly Auto Parts – and they donated parts for the job.

“I’m glad that the parts stores stepped up and helped too,” Hargrove said.

The vehicle was dropped off at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, and Hargrove finished work on it by 12:30 a.m. the next morning. The cost to the family would have been more than $2,500, but Hargrove did the job for free.

Hargrove said that Carballo could not thank him enough when he picked up the repaired vehicle.

“He was teary-eyed. I could tell he was really appreciative of what we were doing,” Hargrove said.

Carballo said what Hargrove did for his family was “awesome.”

“I was amazed,” Carballo said. “I didn’t realize how much people actually care. I was shocked. It’s hard for me to accept anything. It was quite a bit of work and something I couldn’t have gotten taken care of. I was so happy. It’s a good feeling all the way around, with people willing to help out.”

And when the heat later went in the vehicle, Hargrove made sure that was fixed, too.

A dependable vehicle will be crucial to the Aaliyah’s family in the months ahead. They were supposed to travel to Boston Monday, Dec. 12, to meet with doctors, but the trip was canceled because of snow.

So far, Aaliyah has had bone marrow biopsies, an ultrasound of her heart and two surgeries to place ports in her neck and chest, where chemotherapy is being administered. Aaliyah will need six cycles of chemotherapy; she receives two types of chemotherapy per cycle and the cycles last five days, her dad and mom, Jessica Spaulding, said. At the end of each cycle, Aaliyah is allowed to return home, but will have to travel from their home in Waldoboro to Portland and Scarborough every two weeks for additional cycles and monitoring. As of Monday, Dec. 12, the family was at home in Waldoboro, but had plans to return to Portland Wednesday, Dec. 14, for Aaliyah to begin her second chemo cycle.

After the second cycle, the family will travel to Boston, where Aaliyah will have a procedure called pheresis, where blood is withdrawn, a portion is separated and retained and the remainder is retransfused into the donor. They will retrieve her stem cells, her parents said, and Aaliyah will get them back when she eventually has a bone marrow transplant.

The goal of the six chemotherapy cycles is to shrink a tumor in her stomach, her parents said, so that it can then be removed. After surgery to remove the tumor, Aaliyah will receive radiation treatment, followed by the bone marrow transplant and then undergo antibody therapies, they said. The entire process – in a best-case scenario – will take 18 months. It could take up to two years, they said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up at and as of Monday, Dec. 12, $7,910 had been raised. Family friends put up a Christmas tree at the family’s home to welcome them when they came home and Laugh Loud Smile Big of Rockport donated two dozen cupcakes for Aaliyah’s fourth birthday celebration. She turned 4 Dec. 8 and the family celebrated Dec. 11. The cupcakes were a hit, Carballo said.

In a Facebook post Dec. 6 Carballo expressed his gratitude: “…our community is amazing! And we are trying to thank everyone involved with our fight – it is a lot harder then you might think – we are really grateful for the prayers, kind words to donations to offered help. Thank you all and we are very grateful. #Aaliyahstrong

While at home, a nurse is visiting their home every other day to draw blood so Aaliyah’s white blood cell count is monitored. Her parents have been taught how to flush the lines for the ports where chemotherapy is administered.

Carballo said that overall, his daughter is doing “amazing,” but that they had to shave her head the other day because her hair was starting to fall out from chemotherapy.

“I think that was harder on me and her mother than her,” he said. “It’s hard to explain to a 4- year-old what’s going on now. It’s more comfortable for her now. Other than that, she’s doing good. She’s not on any painkillers right now.

“She just has to be careful, but she’s kinda confused – she’s acting like her old self, which is a good feeling,” he said. “She’s not very happy that she has to go back Wednesday. As soon as she sees the nurses and doctors it’s instant stink-eye – she gives them the dirtiest looks.”

Carballo said the doctors are hopeful the family will be home for Christmas, but that will depend on whether Aaliyah’s blood cell counts are where they are supposed to be.

Having their car fixed has been a huge relief – and one less thing for the family to worry about, Carballo said.

“I didn’t know what we were going to do,” he said. “Thank you to Tom from our whole family. We’re on the road almost every other day right now. It’s up and down constantly. Hopefully we can get in some sort of routine. It’s just the beginning.”