Benefit held for toddler who died of 'dry drowning'

HOUSTON – Family and friends held a benefit to help a local family devastated by the dry drowning death of their 4-year-old son.

The family of 4-year-old Frankie Delgado said he it had no idea about dry drowning before it happened.

On Saturday at Texas Twisters Tavern, dozens of people came together to raise money for the boy's funeral and medical bills.

The family said it took Frankie to Texas City Dike on Memorial Day weekend. Frankie was playing in the water. It was only knee deep. His mother and father said Frankie only fell underwater briefly.

"A boat had passed by and knocked him down, and he got back up and just cleaned his face. I asked him if he was fine, and he said he was fine," said Frankie’s mother, Tara Delgado.

Frankie laughed, smiled and continued to play. It was only until two days later when Frankie started to show symptoms.

His parents originally thought he had a stomach bug. He had trouble sleeping, and breathing. He had chest and should pains and had been vomiting. He also had diarrhea.

"I love my son so much. I'm always touching him, and I'm always talking to him when he's sleeping, and all of a sudden he just woke up," Delgado said. "He looked at me, and he just rolled his eyes back and took a deep breath. I was like 'Frankie, what's wrong,' and I got up real quick, and I saw that he took a breath but never exhaled."

Frankie was rushed to the hospital. For more than an hour, medical staff tried to help and resuscitate him. Eventually, doctors told the family, Frankie did not make it. His family said they found water in his lungs and around his heart.

It's been almost a month since the tragic happening.

"We're all here. Friends and family coming together -- it's what it's all about," said Frankie's cousin, Mike Martinez.

It was a large out pour of support.

A long table inside Texas Twisters Tavern was filled with chicken, sausage, barbecue, Mexican rice, beans and more. In the center of the tavern was an assembly line of family and friends sporting orange shirts that had Frankie's picture. They were all serving food at $10 a plate -- all for the family of Little Frankie.

"We hope [the family understands] that we love them," said Frankie’s cousin, Gloria Picazo. "It's a tragic situation and we want them to know we have their back."

All of the proceeds go toward Frankie's funeral and medical bills.

Francisco and Tara Delgado are now determined to tell Little Frankie's story. The benefit at Texas Twisters Tavern helped raise money, but also to warn people of dry drowning.

[READ: 'Dry drowning' story saves another boy]

"I'm trying to spread awareness because I don't want this to happen to nobody. I don't want anybody to go what I'm going through, what my family is going through," Francisco said.

Through T-shirts, conversation over food and raffles, Frankie's story was shared hundreds of times. Dozens of family members and close friends sold meals to their friends and co-workers. Frankie's cousin, Rick Garcia, owns a cook out service called “Second 2 None Cookers.” Garcia said 18 cooks brought out nearly 1,000 pounds of meat to grill and barbecue.

"We started cooking early this morning," Garcia said. "It's all to support the family."

"I have 13 plates that I'm delivering and I'm going to my job," Frankie's cousin, Valery Garcia, said as she held bags full of food.

Even those who did not know the family stopped by to grab some grub.

"I have a little kid of my own, so it hits close to home," Eloy Blizando said.

"Little Frankie," Picazo said, remembering him, "he was just so full of life."

The benefit sold more than 100 plates in the first hour. The family had put out posters before the event.

A GoFundMe page was also set up.

Frankie's father looked with tears at all the people supporting his family through this tough time.

"I think of my son and how much he has touched so many lives," Francisco said.