The story of local combustion survivors inspires a cartoon about mental health

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Gabe Alvarado’s life changed forever back in 2009 when an explosion at a Corpus Christi refinery left him with severe burns and other injuries.

Doctors kept him in a coma for 90 days, and since the explosion he has required more than 70 surgeries.

But now his story is the inspiration for a cartoon called “My life is worth living”, which deals with the mental problems that children and teenagers suffer from.

The story of the cartoon character Danny is that he was badly burned in a house fire and lost his lower left arm – just like Alvarado did.

The four-part series begins with Danny returning to school and facing ridicule and rejection because of his discolored skin and the hook he has instead of his missing hand.

Alvarado was well past his high school years when the explosion happened, but he says he still felt rejected because of his disfigurement, and therefore he has some advice.

“When you see someone who looks different, instead of staring or something – hey – smile,” he said. “A smile goes a long way.”

Wonder Media created Danny and four other characters who experience various triggers of mental illness. Owner Terry Thoren used to be the CEO of the company that created the hit cartoons ‘Rugrats’ and ‘The Simpsons’.

His character, inspired by Alvarado, learns to deal with his “new normal” better through therapy and other means.

“Danny, over time – and by connecting with the power and strength of his family and friends – reaches the point where Gabe is now,” Thoren said.

All five story lines will be available for free on YouTube.

They are being offered in English right now, but in January, Thoren says they will also be available in Portuguese, Spanish, Mandarin and Japanese.

“Any teenager who suffers from mental health challenges, we want them to be able to get it for free,” he said.

And if they benefit from the free help, it will be a golden edge to Alvarado’s personal tragedy.

“I just wanted to do something good for society and keep doing it,” Alvarado said. “And with the love and support of friends and family and the community, we can keep this series going.”

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