Her sons say she was their supermom, taking them for haircuts and teaching them life lessons like 'It's better to give than to receive.' Their last time together was enjoying a family visit to a local barber shop. A few days later, Rocio Guillen, a mother of four, was killed at the Harvest 91 music festival in Las Vegas.
Now her teenage sons, Christopher Guillen, 13, and Marcus Guillen, 18, want to honor their mother's memory by working to connect their present with her past.
"She made sure we helped people no matter what and just treat others the way you want to be treated," Christopher Guillen said.
Marcus Guillen, a senior at Mayfair High School, began selling charity bracelets that benefitted other Las Vegas shooting victims. As the president of his school's Leo Service Club, he encouraged fellow students to join his cause.
"Everyone in some way helps other people," Marcus Guillen said. "So by connecting it to Leo Club, that would be an amazing experience to help more people out."
Together, the two brothers organized a food drive this year, handing out over 100 turkeys to families in need for Thanksgiving. "I noticed (Marcus Guillen) right out of the gate because he was somebody who stepped up," said Leo Club staff advisor David Poole.
The brothers' efforts were rewarded with a connection that truly surprised them.
The Leo Club is connected to the Lions Club International, a large volunteer service organization. Marcus Guillen will be somewhere very special on New Year's Day: riding on the The Lions Club float in the 2018 Rose Parade.
"He still wants to give back in memory of his mom and if that doesn't work for any service organization, I don't know what would," said Larry Wehage, a member of the Lions Club float team.
Marcus Guillen says he will never forget the time he took a child to a toy giveaway, only to learn that what she truly needed was clothing.
"You know that's not right," he said. "We get toys, why shouldn't she get toys? So I pulled a $20 out of my pocket and said, 'We're going to the toy section. You're gonna get a toy this Christmas.'"
The brothers are determined to provide for kids this Christmas, asking for help in toy donations.
"She would have loved this, what we're doing right" Christopher Guillen said. "So it helps me to know that she's probably proud of us right now."
One of the collection spots for the brothers' toy drive is the barber shop where they last saw their mother alive, the last place they were truly connected.
Those interested in donating can stop by these collection locations from Nov. 11 to Dec. 10.
- True School Barbershop - Buena Park
- California Pizza Kitchen - Cerritos, Lakewood, Santa Ana, Rancho
- Chili's - Chino Hills, Yorba Linda
- Cassidy's Corner Café - Lakewood
- The Finest Barbershop - Lakewood