The MJC Foundation is dedicated to educating and installing carbon monoxide detectors to the less fortunate worldwide.
You walk down the stairs to wake your son and his friends up from a sleepover. They will not wake up. A young man goes to his girlfriend's apartment. He finds her sleeping in her bed. She will not wake up. A woman is cleaning her house. She feels tired so she lies down. Her husband comes home and she will not wake up. These are all true stories. These people did not awaken because of carbon monoxide poisoning. Spending $20 on a detector could have prevented all of these deaths. I know these stories are true because I have one of my own.
My name is Stefan Calvaruso, and I am the President and CEO of the Maria Jose Crusellas Foundation. Maria was a nineteen-year-old girl from Ecuador and my fiancé. She came to visit relatives in the United States for about six months in 2008. During those six months, Maria and I fell deeply in love.
While apart, we spoke every day for hours. Maria was planning on coming back to the United States three months later as an international college student. Unfortunately, Maria was not able to obtain a student visa. We were devastated, but we told each other that love would get us through these difficult times.
Since she was not coming to the United States, I decided I would travel to Ecuador for five weeks. It was the best five weeks of my life. Waking up to her face everyday was a dream come true and something I will never forget. While I was there, I told Maria that I would do everything in my power to get her into the United States. I wanted her to achieve her goal of obtaining a college degree from a United States University, and of course, obtaining both our dreams marriage.
During this time, I was currently attending New York University. My goal was to work as hard as I could to finish my studies and save enough money to bring Maria to the United States. However, once again there was another problem with Maria's visa, and she was immediately denied. We were once again distraught. I made the decision to fly down to Ecuador with the money I saved and marry Maria there.
We were both very eager and were counting down the days to see each other. I was supposed to leave on February 10, 2010, but then the North East blizzard of the decade occurred. All flights were cancelled. After constantly calling the airport, I finally got a flight for very early in the morning on February 11th.
The night before I left Maria and I were talking and Maria told me she was not feeling too well. She told me she was going to lie down for a little. I text her I love you, but she never answered me, so I called her a few times. Maria had a history of headaches, so I thought nothing of it and assumed she had fallen asleep.
I had three stopovers during my trip to Ecuador. At each airport, I continually called Maria, but I never received an answer. Now I was becoming very concerned, but worked at staying calm.
I finally arrived in Quito around 12am on February 12th. All I wanted to do was to see Maria. After I went through customs and immigration, I began looking all over for her. She was nowhere to be found. I finally saw two gentlemen holding a piece of paper with my name on it. I asked them what happened, but no one would give me an answer. After driving in silence, I finally arrived at Marias aunt's house. I walked in and there was nobody who looked familiar. I finally saw Maria's cousin, Christi. I asked her if everything was all right, but again I received no answer. Then I heard the dreadful news. Five hours before I flew in, Maria was found dead in her apartment due to carbon monoxide poisoning. I lost it. She was the love of my life and the best thing that ever happened to me. Maria was the reason I woke up every morning. I didn't understand how this could happen. Throughout my grieving process, I realized this couldnt happen again. I needed to do something about this because I do not want anyone to go through the pain I had to go through. I want Maria's name to live on.