A Small Dallas Stars Fan Inspires in a Big Way
A Small Dallas Stars Fan Inspires in a Big Way
Student of the Year is a Frisco fundraising competition between high schools. Wakeland High School student-athlete, Ryen Stover, competes in the competition and introduced us to Max Hinojosa, the person who inspires her team to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Max was diagnosed with JMML (Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia) at one month old. We talk to Max and his dad, Cristian, about their story, and how groups like Ryen and her friends help fight for kids and families like theirs.
And, of course, we talk about sports! Max is a HUGE Dallas Stars and Dallas Mavericks fan. Listen and you’ll hear it in his amazing little voice!
Enjoy this episode and other episodes of Hustle and Pro in our archives.
[01:12] Meet Max (Bio here)
[04:56] The Hinojosas’ JMML story
[13:36] Max keeps track of Stanley Cups
[18:55] “Can we talk about the Mavericks?”
[21:48] The Big Climb
Resources within this episode:
- The Big Climb: May 15, 2021 Donate to the Dallas Fire Department team here
- Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Website | Instagram @llsusa | Facebook @LLSusa | Twitter @llsusa |
- Student of the Year & Ryen’s team, Enough is Enough
- Kelly Walker: Bio | Instagram @kelly_walkertexas | Twitter: @kelly_walker_TX
This episode is sponsored by:
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This episode is sponsored by Visit Frisco. All work and no play? Not in Sports City, USA. Frisco might be known for its sports. But, it’s our array of out-of-left-field, totally unique attractions that really make our city a home-run. So step up to the plate and have a ball in your own backyard. With these suggested ways to play. The Switch Play. Take a long pass on weekend boredom and regroup for some one-on-one time over dinner with more than 400 restaurant options. The Draw Play: with everything from live theater and music to a nationally recognized public art collection, Frisco’s draws are many. Frisco: The City That Plays.
Welcome to Hustle & Pro I’m your host Kelly Walker. We have some special guests in the studio today. We’ve got Max Hinojosa and Max’s dad, Cristian Hinojosa. Hi guys. Thanks for coming and talking to me. All right. So Max, we’re going to start off by learning a little bit about you and what you love about sports. So if I was to ask you your favorite athlete ever was who would it be?
Oh yeah. That’s a good one. Now what about your second favorite? Cause I know we’re going to, we’re going to talk about another sport here in a minute. So I’m curious who Jamie Benn, Oh, okay. See, I think we’re going to talk some star. So Jamie Benn. Yeah, he’s a good one too. You like some, some good Dallas athletes. So, um,
I think I know the whole roster . Of the stars. Yeah. Give it, give it to me. How many can you name Pitt Pavelski Benn Rangelove Klinenberg Robertson. Gloriana of Kivronta. Wow. And how is a fun one to say he got a hat trick in the playoffs last year in a game winning goal for Dallas and move on to the Western conference championships.
Well, yeah, you did. You said a lot of those names that are not easy to say Jamie Benn. Sure. He’s easy to say. Some of those are really tough. Yeah. Those are harder. And for everybody listening, what you probably don’t realize is how old Max is. He sounds, he knows this stuff about the stars, but Max, how old are you? Seven years old. Seven years old. Got a lot of stars. Knowledge in that seven year old brain of yours.
I even been to some games that I, I went to the opening season game this, this year for the stars and they crushed them seven to zero. Wow. Did you get to see all those goals? Yes. That’s fantastic. Did anybody get a hat trick in that game with all those goals? Oh, no. Different players. All seven different players. Wow. And they were on a, I think at the beginning of this season, was it right? That they were on a good winning streak? Yes. But then they dropped down. Yeah. They were up to fourth, but then they dropped down to last.
Well, you know, hockey’s got a long season, usually. I don’t know. In normal seasons, normal years. It’s really long season it’s I think, I think it’s one of the harder sports to play a full season in like get to the finals and the, get to the, you know, win championships hockey is just kind of brutal. Right. What do you think? I don’t think it’s brutal off. So you don’t think when those guys are like skate and full speed and they get checked up against the boards I’d say that was brutal. Yeah. That seems brutal. Right? I feel like when I say brutal, I mean like tough on your body, Like they trip and slash
Who do you think some of the tougher athletes are? Jamie? He fights a lot. He’s a fighter. I know Yan Mon, but he was going, he was at destroys, but then he moved to Chicago.
Okay. Okay. So I think hockey players are super tough. Like I said, I think it’s hard to get to the finals in that sport. Um, because it’s a long season and it’s just so hard on your body, but I think they’re like tough players out on the ice, but I think there’s some of the nicest guys. Have you ever gotten to meet any of them or hear any of them talk off ice? No. I’ve seen, I’ve seen them interview. Yeah. Yeah. I’ve seen some interviews, but I never got a met any I’m working on that. We got, we made, make a wish. They were trying to figure out if I can meet. Oh my goodness.
Okay. So let’s get into that a little bit. Cause you mentioned Make-A-Wish so I do want to talk a little, this is a sports related, but it’s you related, So I want to talk a little bit about your story. So how I found you, um, it’s interesting to me
Leukemia and lymphoma society. That’s right. I have leukemia. You have leukemia. Yeah. My friend, her name is Ryen Stover. She’s a high school student here in Frisco, her dad and, um, my husband played soccer together in college. So we’ve known them through sports forever and they’re a big sports family. And she, um, is part of a group called student of the year who it’s basically like a local fundraising competition for him. I know. Right. And so her group that she’s in is called her team that she’s on is called enough is enough. And she sends out emails and asks people to help fundraise, which means raise money, right? For some, for certain causes and her cause that she likes to raise money for is leukemia and lymphoma society. So one of the emails that I got from her was talking about you and I read this email and I heard your story and I thought I need to meet Max and learn more about him. So that’s why you and your dad are here today. You were diagnosed. If I get this right, I’m at about one month old and Cristian, you might jump in if I get any of this wrong, but I want to hear your side of this too, with juvenile. Oh, I’m not even going to say it. Can you tell me what it is?
Yeah, it’s a juvenile mano myelocytic leukemia. So that’s a very rare form of leukemia. Uh, the abbreviated JMML and the incidence of this disease is 1.2 per million births, So Max was, uh, was born as our one in a million and this is a blood cancer. It’s actually a cancer of the marrow. So the, the cells inside the marrow kind of get a little bit hyper and produce too much.
So there’s no indication of it before he was born. You found out after, after a blood draw or was there something else that. Basically the, uh, heel stick that the state of Texas requires all newborns to go through and the pediatrician called us and said, Hey, I need you to come back. Uh, there’s been some abnormal test results. Uh, I’m positive that there’s nothing to be concerned with. It’s probably just a false positive. I’ve never seen this before. Lo and behold, two weeks later, the false positive was not false. And that kind of started our journey. Changed the course of everything I bet. Right. Did it, did the, uh, the next month after that was, you know, harrowing to say the least as we kind of went through all these different possible diagnoses and finally honed in on the one that we never imagined, we’d be dealing with
The rare one. Yeah. One in a million. Yeah. Max, what do you remember? Um, do you look back at pictures and remember things at all? Or do you not have any memory of when you were sick? I don’t have any memory. That’s awesome. You know what that means? That means I hate to remember when I got my shots. I hate shots. Yeah. I bet I hate, I bet my flu shot didn’t hurt. You can handle that a little bit lower on hurting. I mean, all the things you went through that you don’t even remember, you are a tough kid. And so, so, uh, Christian, tell us a little what, what that was, what did he go through? I mean, I’ve read that it’s like a year’s worth of surgeries and different treatments. What did that look like?
Sure. Well, it’s, it’s so rare. They don’t really know much about the long-term progression because the patients in this population are so small. So normally they want to do, what’s called a STEM cell transplant and for JMML patients that has a 50% five-year survival rate. I can’t imagine hearing that as a parent of a baby,
It was terrible. Uh, however, there’s also this outlier population that has this, what they call kind of spontaneous resolution. And with those patients, you do kind of a watch and wait approach. So Max so far has been in that outlier group. He did go through about a year of chemotherapy with, uh, uh, a drug called six MP. It’s a low dose chemo. We took him off of that after a year and his body kind of normalized. So in that drug is part of, I guess, with groups like Ryen who do raise money. I mean, that’s what they’re doing, right? They’re raising money for research to come up with solutions like that.
So when you, let me backtrack a minute, when you kind of are faced with this situation, you become desperate, you become, uh, that, that fear motivates you. It motivated me to look for resources, you know, I’m kind of a nerd. So I just started inhaling. The research, started making the phone calls, started getting on the internet.
And I finally got, I finally got to go to school for one day. Are you talking about the pandemic or are you talking about when you’re a kid? Um, so one of the, you know, you start looking for organizations as well, not just the doctors, but you know, what’s happening. Cause the doctors in some of these situations, they, they don’t, they don’t know either. I mean the one that, that flagged it for you, he didn’t even know.
Yeah. So one of the scarier conversations we had was with an oncologist from the university of California, at San Francisco, Dr. Lowe, and Dr. Lowe’s big part of our story and our journey. But one of the things she told us is look, you know, the reason we’re not making advances in pediatric cancer, cures is because it’s not profitable. That’s disgusting. It was disgusting. It was, uh, you know, heart wrenching, uh, you know, and, and you start to think, wait a sec, this is literally like, we’re literally limited here by money. And so at that point, you know, Max was starting to stabilize and, and I just realized, look, you know, if this is just a matter of raising money, I’m going to do everything within my power to help that effort.
And they gave me a Teddy bear for when I was born and I still have it. Oh, did you, does it have a name? Let me guess. Jamie Benn, I named him by the animal bear. Oh, that’s good. That’s a, that’s a good, strong bear name I named who gave it to you. Your parents are like, do you the hospital people or doctors? The hospital people. Yeah.
So what kind of hospitals were you in? Do you remember? Presbeterian. That’s where you’re born. When you were getting treatment, I bet all kinds of places. Were you here in Texas. The whole time, We first went to UCSF, the Benioff children’s hospital in San Francisco, which happens to be kind of a JMML, uh, specialty, uh, clinic. And then he’s gotten his treatment here at Texas oncology through medical city here in Dallas with an incredible team of providers.
So once you got good results and your, your body started responding, Max, um, what do you have to do now? You’re seven. So you’ve been kind of in remission. Is that the right word for it? Clear. Okay. Clinical remission. You’ve been kind of good to go for a few years. Do you still have to go and let doctors check you out for this?
Yes. But at least they’re telling you all good stuff. You have good test results. Now you don’t have to get all those surgeries and things and, uh, treatments done anymore. So that’s the good stuff.
I still have to have blood check pressure. I hate that. Okay. No, the blood checks, when they do, they prick your finger, or like draw from your arm. Ooh. That’s a big kid stuff. Yeah. I hate that when I take it from your arm. Yeah, I do too hurts. Last time I got it. I had to do this one and this one gave me two cars for it too. What for it? One car for it. Because two of these counts as a shot. Every time he gets a needle stick, like hot wheels Car. Pixar cars. Oh, cool. Very cool. And, but I haven’t told dad yet. I’m doing a list of all the Stanley cup champions in my composition book at tool.
Oh my gosh. See, I told you Max, that you remind me of my son, Jack, you know, he loves that stuff too. At schools. Sometimes when he’s finished with his work, he’ll go do sports charts and like chart, different winners of all the different sports in his extra time at school. Do you like that? That’s what I’m doing. I finished everything. So do you know, except for one word study. Okay. Who won the Stanley cup last year? They Tampa Bay Lightening against the Dallas stars. Remember that one? Do you remember who won? And the, I don’t know. Last few Stanley cups. Not, I can’t remember. I could bring my book if I had it.
Would you guess though, are some of, like the power house, NHL hockey teams over time. Oh, just kind of like when you think of hockey who were like the best hockey teams.
Oh, okay. Montreal Canadians. They won five Stanley cup championships in a row, in a row in a row. Has that ever been done by anybody else? You think? I bet. I bet not. That seems like a really hard thing to do back to back is hard. Three-peats, really hard five in a row, man. That must’ve been a while. Yeah. Yeah. Very. It was like in the 1950s. Man, those Canadians, they have it. They have hockey figured out though.
Yes. There are third. I think the senators seat, one of the best teams, I think senators are also good. Nah, no. Eight 15 one. What does eight, 15 won. The record? Eight wins. 15 losses and one overtime loss. Oh wow. I didn’t know. That’s how they do this stats now. Who’s that? The senators.
You said earlier, um, some of your favorite players. So did you say Khudobin? Did I say that right? Yes. Um, so why do you like him? He was the top goalie, I think for the, for to play offs. Yeah. He was like some star or, well, I know he’s a stellar star, but he was like a celebrity in the finals or the whole, um, the whole series. Right. Because was he a backup? Yes. For Ben, Bishop, Bishop. Then they had the pull him a little. Yeah. I mean, you can’t play every game all the time. Right. As a goalie. That’s a lot. Yeah. But he’s been playing a little bad. So they’re pulling him and giving Ott a chance to get in there.
Well, you know, it’s important to have a backup, right? Your backup has to get some playing time too, because you can’t just rely on one goalie for the whole season. So it’s good to have a balanced bench. Don’t you think? Yeah. So I, um, have you ever heard what’s his name, Anton or what’s his name? Anton. Anton. Have you ever heard him talk? Oh, uh, yes. He talks, I mean, he has a really thick accent. Right. So when you talk, he doesn’t sound American like us and yeah. Yeah. He’s from like a different country. I don’t know where he’s friends from Sweden. Oh, I think so. Wait, Jamie better ben Bishop Jamie And his brother, right? Cause doesn’t he have a brother on also? No. Yeah, sure. Right. Isn’t there, aren’t there two bins. Jamie Benn. And I’m just going blank on his name, but there’s been brothers that play hockey. Yeah. I’m just going blank. Jamie Benn. And Jamie’s the bigger name that we all know what I’m talking about. Right? Like I haven’t heard him. I definitely know he still plays, but I know there’s been there’s there’s brothers. No, no. Bobby Hull or brothers. Are they brothers or was that his dad? Dad. And what’s special about Brett Hull. He scored a cup winning goals for Dallas. That was the Stanley cup. In what year? 1999. 2000.
Yeah. I remember where I, when that happened, where I was, well, first of all, I was in college. I was out in Lubbock, Texas. I went to Texas tech university and I worked at an Italian restaurant called Orlandos and we watched a lot of the games whenever I wasn’t waiting on a table, I would hop into the bar. Cause they were TVs all over the place. And I was in the bar watching on TV while I was working in college. Where were you buddy?
Still in God’s heart. Aw. I love that. That’s awesome. Because I was even born. You weren’t even, you weren’t even close to being born. Well, I was born in 2013. 2013? Yeah. Okay.
Who’s stick do you have? Brett Hull. A signed stick. like the sticky used maybe then? Yeah. That’s a wooden stick. Yeah. Wow. Now you play sports. I mean, you told me these, these people you like and you like the stars and I know you like the Mavs. Um, you play sports too though. What do you play?
I told you Baseball, soccer, basketball. And now can we talk about the Maverick. For sure. Yeah. What do you want to talk about the Mavs? So, well, I mean, Luka. Hello? Yeah. Tell me about Luka.
Well, I’m not talking about Luka and talking about the Mavs. They’re eighth in their division. They’re really good. They’ve been going up and down. They even beat the Brooklyn net too, James Harding and Kevin Duran. Yeah. It was just harden and playing in that game though. Right? I don’t think KD was out there. I think it was just James harden. I’m thinking of a couple Of games. Kevin Durant I heard his name and that game. Okay. Maybe he was, but yeah, they, they kind of been up and down too, which is normal. Right? In these seasons. You, you go, you go, you win. Some you lose. The worst team in the NBA is the Minnesota. Timberwolves seven, I think 28, seven 28. And the Mavs are 18. 16. Okay. So they’re a little over 500, you know, that means, right? Yeah. So they’re a little, you got to say over that. If you’re want to get in these playoff cuts, especially like last year, do you remember how they were, you know, play in their season and then with the pandemic, they had to shorten it all up and make cuts kind of earlier. Right? Got knocked out By the Clippers. Yeah, but they got a chance though. They got to play in, you know, they got to play off chance. Right. And they got one on one measly game, right?
No, they won. I think they won two or one measly series. Maybe I’m thinking well, Doncic buried a buzzer beater for the win at the playoffs. A buzzer. Do you watch a lot of the Mavs games? I’ll see if I can. Sometimes they beat the Thunder last night, 87, 78. Oh wow. That sounds like a good game.
Were you a fan of Dirk when he was playing for the mavs or do you even remember? Three years ago when dirk was playing. Dark was like before Luka, there was dark Dirk Nowitzki. You remember him? He has a street named after him in front of American airlines. We’ve reached the generation where dirk is not the guy anymore. Right. I know the name. I can’t recognize him. Yeah. If you see a picture, you’d be like, Oh yeah, totally. That’s dirk. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Um, okay.
One last thing I want to talk to you about, um, I’ve heard you, what do you want to be when you grow up? I’m thinking about the firefighter. I’m kind of afraid of fires. Why do you want it? Why would you want to be a firefighter? Who do you, uh, your dad you’re pointing to your dad. Yeah. So, so Cristian, you are a firefighter in Dallas. Yes. Right? How long have you been doing that?
Just started my 16th year 16. And, and he, when I was born, he went to 28 with any guts, switched up and then he’s at 28. Now That’s the station. I work at 28. Okay. Um, I heard that you guys do this thing called the big climb. What is that?
The big climb is one of the, uh, one of our favorite Raise money. And our team won it last year. What do you have to do Max? You got to climb to raise money. Climb stairs. Yep. And like what your bathing suit or what are you, what are you wearing? Firefighter gear. But not, but not me. Well, I mean, it’s heavier than you. I bet. So, so, uh, what are so Cristian, it’s a team of people that are wearing firefighter gear climbing stairs.
Yeah. We’ve had about 70 firefighters do this challenge. It’s the tallest building in Dallas, 72 stories. So we climb it and full gear. I Made a friend last year. He sure did. I think he had glasses or something. Yeah. He was on TV like me. Do you know how much the gear wave Max? Do you know if it’s more than you weigh more than you weigh? So what’s the gear about 65. That’s 65, 70 pounds. And you’re used to that. Right?
70 flights of stairs may Be used to the, the gear, but not 70 flights of stairs. I mean, that’s incredible. They do. But I think one of the special things about that event is what’s motivating you and just being there for, for this cause for LLS and on every floor, they have pictures of people you’re doing this in honor of. Yeah. In honor of me, do you have a picture up in one of the floors? You should get more than one floor and you should have a whole bunch of floors. So are you, are you climbing the stairs Max Next year? This year? Yes. I think we do a, something like Virtual climb this year. What’s A virtual climb anyway? New thing, man. It’s just what you do now because you might not be able To do it like invisible steps. We’re going to go, we’ll go do some bleachers somewhere. You can do your own steps. It’s just, you won’t be doing the same steps all the other people are doing, but you might be doing them like at the same time and somebody might film you or, but you can still raise money. It’s the same idea. People can still pledge to give you a certain amount of money. If you go do it. Oh yeah. It will still work.
I think next year Max is going to do it on his own, which is just such a testament to him. Why daddy? Well, you’re going to know what I mean is by my side and stuff on my back. Oh, okay. Wait, wait a second. You’re usually on his back. When he goes these 72 stories, we didn’t mention that. Okay. So the 65 pounds of gear plus the what? 40 pounds of Max, 49 inches, four feet, Four feet of Max on your back. How long does this take you?
We did it in about what? 17 minutes? No. Yeah. You want, you don’t want to drag it out. Your lungs and your body. I gave him high five. You are trucking it go in 70. I mean seven stories in 17 minutes. It’s uh, it’s, it’s a challenge and that’s, and we like that challenge To the big climb in the show notes for this episode. So people can go check it out. Please do. Yeah. We’re actively fundraising right now for this year’s event. So we would definitely appreciate it. I’ve never heard of it. And so now I’m glad that I have, and we can tell other people. So Max, thank you for coming in here and telling us about you and your story. And um, I hope that you keep playing in your basketball and soccer and baseball.
I have soccer coming up. I will miss practice because it’s going on right now. Oh, You got to skip practice to come to the podcast? Yes. I really wanted to. Max, let me ask you now that you’re healthy. What is it that you enjoy about participating in LLS, why are you doing this?
Because I want to raise money for other people to be saved.
That’s awesome. Max is you’re kind of done with the, the fight part of it. So you’re helping other people fight now. Yeah. That’s amazing. And your whole family is too. I’m guessing it’s a family affair. It’s not just you. Well it’s dad and will. Yeah. It’s your dad and my brother.
Oh, you have a brother. Okay. Is he older than you or younger than you? He’s four years old. Okay. Well I bet he’s going to be a stars fan too. If he isn’t already, I love all your stars, knowledge and your Mavs knowledge. You’ll have to come back and do some co-hosting with me and do some, uh, season previews or some post-season summaries. Once they’ve, once this started, when the Stanley cup you come back in and give us a summary of the, of the playoffs.
Yes. I’ll give you the highlights. Give the highlights. Fantastic. Well, Max and Cristian Hinajosa. Thank you guys for coming in the studio and thank you guys for listening to this episode of Hustle & Pro make sure you subscribe and leave comments and likes and We’ll see you next time. Thank you. Bye.