The Rios family’s spacious two-story home in Long Branch Estates between Midlothian and Ovilla, serves as a symbol of past professional success and better times financially.
However, several unfortunate circumstances, such as Gene Rios being laid off from his job as a hotel conference planner/consultant coupled with the debilitating condition of his wife, Stacie, and the possibility of the loss of their home and other possessions, are looming over them. Yet, they still have not lost hope.
For 18 years, Gene has worked in the hotel industry as a sales executive and director of sales and marketing for several hotel corporations.
“About four years ago, Stacie began having severe headaches and before long, other symptoms developed such as motor coordination problems and she experienced some temporary blindness,” Gene said. “We later discovered that she has a rare condition known as intra-cranial hypertension, formerly known as psuedo-tumor cerebri.
“My immediate supervisors were amazing. They gave me a lot of flexibility in my work hours,” he said. “They let me take off when necessary to care for Stacie during her attacks and also to help with the boys.”
The Rioses have four boys: Chase, 15; Chandler, 11; Chad, 8; and Chaiden, who is almost 1.
“My boys have been wonderful,” Stacie said. “They are so helpful. They have been through this ordeal enough they just know when to dial 9-1-1 and to help me until the paramedics come.
“The paramedics have been out so many times. They just know when they receive the call what the problem is and they don’t even sound the sirens,” she said.
“When one of the hotels changed management back in January, things changed drastically with my job,” Gene said. “Missing five days in about a month to see after my ailing wife kind of freaked them out and suddenly I was terminated.”
Stacie’s condition causes her body to produce too much fluid to the brain and the pressure causes temporary blindness. If she does not receive a spinal tap to drain the excess spinal fluid within a certain amount of time, permanent blindness will result. Slurred speech, loss of motor skills and severe headaches are some other symptoms of the condition.
“She probably holds the record for number of emergency calls in a year and ER (emergency room) visits to Charlton Methodist Hospital,” Gene said. “She will average one call by paramedics each week in Midlothian. The paramedics and 9-1-1 staff have been wonderful to deal with.”
Rios has launched his own business, Executive Meeting Consultants, as a meeting planner and will try to continue planning meetings and conferences on an independent basis for corporate, association, government and other organizations.
“The prospects are very good. I have quite a few clients that I am coordinating their meetings and conferences,” Gene said. “I even have one for 2010. The only problem is, income won’t be realized for several months and we’re down to our last $60 in our bank account.
“This is very difficult, because I’ve always prided myself being the bread winner of my family and so it’s very hard for me to accept charity,” he said.
The family has had its long distance phone service disconnected for not being able to pay the bill and has just lost one of its two vehicles last week. The Rioses are also three payments behind on their mortgage.
“The city of Midlothian has really helped us on our water bill but the other utility companies only can carry your arrangements so far and time is running out on all of them,” Gene said. “We are behind on our phone bill, electric, gas and water and, of course, our car payments.
“If something miraculous doesn’t happen within, say, the next two weeks, we are probably going to lose everything,” he said.
“But in spite of everything, I have a real sense of peace,” Stacie said. “I just know God isn’t going to let us down.”
An account has been set up for the family by their friends and church.
Donations may be sent to the Gene Rios Benefit Account, Vintage Bank, 119 W. Ovilla Road, Glenn Heights, TX 75154.