I’m not sure who I’m writing to. Is this Angelica? My name is Lynne Woodward and I am Marius’ adoptive mother. I was googling his name and came across this website I hadn’t seen before. I was so amazed and moved as I read through it, the love and compassion that shone through your description of Marius and the very generous donation you’re making on his behalf. I don’t know how I can thank you. I’m blown away by David Archuleta’s fans – such a unique group of incredibly caring and giving individuals. Truly. I wish so bad Marius could meet every single one of you and thank you personally. But please let me thank you, as his mom, for what you are doing. Marius wants desperately to be able to go to Romania next summer for his sister’s wedding. Marius and his sister, Alina, have not seen each other since Marius left for America in August of 2008. It’s been very hard on Marius and his brother to be so far from their sister, and of course very difficult for her to be the last member of her family left in Romania. So thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your donation. It will go straight toward the effort of reuniting the three siblings at the wedding. I hope all who donated will be able to see this message and know of our gratitude.
Again, thank you.
Lynne Woodward (Marius’ mom)
The article that caught the attention of Lynne Woodward and Marius here in which a donation is made in David’s name from his fans from money sent for the Arizona event. The following is a talk given by Marius to the Shriners, October, 2011 published here with his permission and that of his adopted mom, along with her above email.
Good morning, everyone. My name is Marius. Thank you for asking me to come and tell you my story today. I was born in a small village in Romania in January 1999. My parents were Catrina and Mihai Dasianu. I had an older brother, Ionut, who was 10, and my sister, Alina, who was 7. We lived on a farm. I liked living on a farm. I liked playing with my friends and my dog and talking to the neighbors. I liked hanging out with my mother and helping her around the house. She was a very loving mother. My dad taught me lots of things. He taught me how to work hard. He taught me how to fix things. He was playful and joked around a lot. But when he drank, he became a different person who I was afraid of.
Our family didn’t have a lot of money. Sometimes my parents left to work in Italy, and Alina or Ionut would take care of me at home. Then Ionut went to work in Italy too. In December of 2007 my parents came home for Christmas.
On the night of December 7th my sister Alina was out with her boyfriend. Ionut was still in Italy working. I had gone to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night. There was smoke all around me and I could see fire. I thought I saw my mother through the smoke. I got out of bed and tried to get to her, but I slipped and fell in something wet. Then I couldn’t see her any more, so I broke a window to get out of the house. I don’t remember any more after that, but I was told our neighbor found me lying on the ground. He called the ambulance and they took me to the hospital. When I woke up in the hospital, the nurses told me I had been in a coma for two weeks. I was in a lot of pain. I was pretty shocked and sad when I saw I had lost my nose and all my fingers. My legs were bandaged so I couldn’t see them, but I knew they were burned pretty bad because of how much they hurt.
My brother, Ionut, came a few days later. I really wanted to see my parents, but Ionut and the nurses told me I couldn’t yet. They said my parents had been burned too, and they were being treated just down the hall. Two American girls, Jessica and Ashley, started visiting me in the hospital. January 30th was my birthday and I turned nine. Jess and Ashley came with balloons and some presents and threw me a little party. I was happy that I had a party, but it was hard to enjoy it because I was still in so much pain and I wished so bad that my mom and dad were there.
Jess and Ashley started coming to see me every day. A lot of the people in the hospital didn’t like Americans. They told me Jess and Ashley were witches and to pretend to be asleep when they came. I tried, but they were so nice and pretty that after a while I gave up and started looking forward to their visits. One boy in the hospital kept sticking his tongue at me and calling me a monster. Ashley told me next time he was mean to tell him that I had 2 American girlfriends, and what did he have? He stopped bothering me. After that I always called Jess and Ashley my 2 girlfriends.
I had been in the hospital for 5 months. A lot of times Ashley and Jess brought me little things – balloons, stickers, candy. One day I asked them if they could bring me a flower, a real flower. They didn’t know it, but the next day was Romanian Mother’s Day. When they brought the flower, I asked the nurses to wheel me down the hall so I could give the flower to my mother. The nurses told me they couldn’t because my parents had been transferred to another hospital. I was so sad and disappointed that I still couldn’t see them.
It was only a few days later that my aunt told me my mom and dad had both died in the fire. I felt like my heart was breaking and I cried all day long. I was so sad and scared I couldn’t eat for a week. Later I really wanted to know more about what happened and how the fire started. My brother Ionut told me about the phone call he got in Italy the morning after the fire. He found out that my dad had been drinking a lot that night. He became really really angry about something. I know that, because of the alcohol, he was not in his right mind. My dad poured gas around the house and lit it on fire. When my brother got the call, my dad had already died, but my mother was still alive. My brother came as fast as he could from Italy, but by the time he got to Romania, my mother had also died. It was really difficult for him. He loved my parents too. He was only 18 years old. He had to bury my parents and he was also very worried about me.
I was so scared. I didn’t know what would happen to me. Then Ashley and Jess told me that they and their families had been working for months to arrange for me to come to America for better medical treatment. A lot of people were donating money to help with the expenses. Shriners Hospitals for Children had accepted me as a patient and said they would do all the surgeries I needed at no charge. Ionut was going become my legal guardian so he could come to America with me. But Ashley and Jess said it was my decision to go or not. For all those months I had just wanted to go home, but now my parents were gone. I had nothing to go home to. I decided I would go to America. Pretty soon I got more and more excited and started telling everyone in the hospital that I was going to America to get new hands and a new nose.
In May Ashley and Jess had to go back to America, but I wasn’t too sad because I knew I would see them again soon. On July 1st I took my first steps since the fire almost 7 months before. Just a few days later, Ionut and I went to get my passport. Except for the ambulance, it was the first time I had ever ridden in a car. On August 3rd we left the hospital and went straight to the airport. I was so excited I felt like I was going to burst. When we arrived in Los Angeles, my girlfriends, Ashley and Jess, and their families were there to meet us. They had balloons and signs and everyone was cheering. I felt a little shy, but really happy. I was in America! I had people who loved me and were going to help me! I could hardly believe how lucky I was.
My first few months in America are kind of a blur. Everything was so new and strange, and I couldn’t understand a thing anyone was saying. But it still was so fun and exciting!The doctors at Shriners Hospitals for Children told my families that before they started the surgeries, we just needed to go have a good time. So we did! Disneyland, Sea World, the beach, horseback riding, the zoo, boating. They kept me so busy with activities, sometimes I just wanted a day at home to rest! But even with so many fun things happening, it was still hard. I got stared everywhere I went. Some people jumped back and looked scared when they saw me. A few people said really mean things. I didn’t like it. But I was starting to realize that most people stared just because they wanted to know what happened. I think lots of people had never seen anyone who was burned before.
After a month of fun, Ionut and I moved in with the Frees, Jessica’s family, in Arizona. They have a lot of kids, so I started picking up English pretty quickly. I started school in Arizona. Around Christmas time everyone got a really big surprise. My brother Ionut and Ashley, my girlfriend, announced that they were engaged! What the heck? Ashley was my girlfriend! No, seriously, I was really happy. Ashley was going to be my new sister, and after the wedding I was going to go live with her parents in San Diego and they were going to adopt me. The Free family was sad I was leaving them, but they knew that it was the right thing. And they would always be my second family. In April of 2009 my brother Ionut, and Ashley, my ex-girlfriend, got married. I was Ionut’s best man.
A couple of months later I moved to San Diego to live with my new mom and dad, Paul and Lynne Woodward. When I started 4th grade in San Diego, it was tough. I didn’t know anybody. I got stared at all over again. There was one real cute little girl in kindergarten who cried every time she saw me. I tried to smile at everyone who stared and just be myself. Pretty soon I started making lots of friends. I think the kids started to realize that I’m a regular guy who might have some scars, but still likes to joke around and have a good time. I was even elected Student Body Vice President! But one of the best days in 4th grade was the day I saw the little kindergarten girl and she didn’t cry. She waved at me and smiled and said, “Hi Marius.” Wow, that was a great day.
I just started 6th grade at a new middle school. I’m making a lot of new friends. Some kids still stare, but once most kids find out what happened, it’s no big deal. During all this time I was having LOTS of surgeries at Shriners Hospitals for Children. My first surgery the doctors put more skin on my eyes. Finally I could close my eyes again! And I really liked how they looked. Then they got my hands ready for some toes to be transferred to be made fingers. Then a couple months later they transferred my right big toe to my right hand. I had a thumb! Can you believe it? I could pick things up, eat, and write with one hand again. It was so cool. My next surgeries were pretty crazy. I was getting my new nose and it was going to take three surgeries. For the first surgery the doctors at Shriners took a bunch of skin from my head, pulled it down over my forehead and onto my nose. The next surgery they took some bone from my rib to give my nose its shape. For five weeks half of my head didn’t have any skin on it. Also, the skin from my head that was attached to my forehead started growing hair. I called it my little pet. It looked pretty funny. Then the last surgery they took the skin and put it back up on my head. They also transferred my second toe. Now I had 2 thumbs and a nose! It was pretty unbelievable.
Since then I’ve had 2 more toes transferred. My doctor says that when my next 2 toes are transferred in February, I’ll be the first person in the world to have 6 toes transferred to make fingers. Guinness Book of World Records, here I come! A while ago my sister read this poem to me
Be glad your nose is on your face, not pasted on some other place.
For if it was where it is not, you might dislike your nose a lot.
Imagine if your preshus nose were san-wiched in between your toes.
That really would not be a treat, for you’d be forced to smell your feet.
Inside your ear your nose would be an ab-so-lute ka-TAS-tro-fee,
For when you had the urge to sneeze, your brain would rattle from the breeze.
And the poem goes on. I got thinking what pieces of me I’ve got where. I made a diagram to try to keep it all straight. So far I’ve got –
1. Some of my back on my legs.
2. Part of my stomach on my hands.
3. The back of my ear on my eyes.
4. Four toes on my hands.
5. Some of my leg on my hands.
6. Some of my leg on my feet.
7. Part of my head on my nose.
8. Part of my rib in my nose.
9. Part of my arm on my mouth
10. Some of my leg on my arm
11. And some of my leg on my forehead.
I’m totally all over the place! But I am so grateful. With every surgery I can do more, I look more handsome (smolder here), and my life gets better. I have had so many great experiences since I’ve been in America. One of the greatest was becoming an uncle! Ashley and Ionut had baby Ethan a year ago. I got to throw out the first pitch at a San Diego Padres baseball game. I’ve been asked to speak at some events for Shriners, including a Kenny G concert. I got to ride on the Shriners float in the Rose Parade last January. I even won 1st prize for scariest costume at our school’s Halloween carnival! I think if you ask my parents, though, they’ll say the best day ever was June 17th, 2011, when my adoption was final. That day I became their son for real, Marius Dasianu Free Woodward.
I have a very good and happy life, but sometimes things are still hard. I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I had not been burned. A lot of times I wish I looked like the other kids. It still hurts when people stare or say mean things. I wish I could do pull-ups and dribble a basketball a little better. I really miss my sister in Romania. I miss my angel mother every day and pray for her every night. I still think about my dad. He was a good dad. I try to understand what made him do what he did, but I don’t know if I’ll ever completely understand what happened. I really love my new family, but I miss my parents every day.
But I have so many things to be grateful for. I’m grateful for my neighbor who found me on the ground and called the ambulance. I’m grateful to the Romanian doctors for keeping me alive. I’m grateful to Ashley and Jessica for caring enough to want to help me. I’m grateful to Ionut for giving up his own life and coming to America with me, even though he STOLE MY GIRLFRIEND! I’m so grateful for the hundreds of people who donated money to help me come. I’m grateful for the opportunities I have living in America. I’m especially grateful to Shriners Hospitals for Children. Because of them I can see, I can run, I can use my hands, I can do karate, I can play the trombone, jump on the trampoline, drive a go-kart, go to school. I’ll be grateful forever to Shriners Hospitals for Children who have made all these things possible. Thank you very much.
Excerpt from a follow up email from Lynne dated October 6th in which the above talk was included.
…he’s been in school, doing great, amazing social skills, everyone loves him, Student Body Vice President and everything! Balancing everything with surgery after surgery after surgery, in which I have never heard one, not ONE, complaint, ever. Eye surgery so he could close his eyes again, brand new nose, 4 toes transferred to his hands to make fingers, with 2 more coming up in February, and a bunch of other stuff. He’s such a handsome guy now! And just the most amazing kid ever. His attitude, his zest for life, his love for people, his appreciation for what he has, his sense of humor and fun. My gosh, the kid is one in a million and the light of my life, and he inspires everyone wherever he goes, just by being himself.
Again, just saying “thank you” seems woefully inadequate for what you are doing. Thank you so much for being so interested in him! And for passing his story along on your website. Let me tell you, meeting David was a thrill! I was so nervous I could hardly talk for the first few minutes. But what a sweet and darling boy. It was such a privilege to meet him. And it’s such a privilege to, from that meeting, get to meet you! Our lives have been enriched from this experience.
Again, thank you.
Sincerely, your friend,
To read more of the story of Marius go to TeamMarius, also posted on the right sidebar. I would like to thank you all too, so much, for your generosity to this wonderful young man. And I would love to use this post to help make the reunion of Marius and his sister in Romania a reality. If you would like to help too, please go here to make a donation, however small. David truly does have the greatest fans in the world.