Tejano music’s rising star and gifted vocalist Isabel Marie Sanchez and her family experienced a deep loss Aug. 27 with the tragic death of her cousin, Franc D’Dileonelle Castro, 18, who was more like a brother to her as the two grew up in the same household for about six years when they were children.
Sanchez, 16, released a touching video tribute to “Frankie,” as he was known to the family, set to her poignant song, “Por Que Tu No Estas.” Sanchez set up a GoFundMe account to help cover funeral expenses as Frankie’s death, which occurred as he was walking home from work, was sudden and left the family reeling.
“There are so many amazing people with amazing hearts out there,” Isabel said, about donations to the account. “I’m just so grateful for them because a funeral isn’t cheap and it’s not something that you expect… (My fans) are helping us send him off in the right way, in the best possible way that we can. I’m just super grateful for them.”
Carlos Sanchez, Isabel’s father and manager, said his family had legal guardianship over five nieces and nephews, including Frankie, for several years, starting when his daughter was about two years old. Frankie was like a son to him and a brother to his three children.
“Even though they were cousins, they were more like brothers and sisters to my kids,” Sanchez said. “(Isabel and Frankie) did everything together just like a brother and sister.”
Isabel talks about how much Frankie meant to her, especially his positive, caring attitude.
“I completely looked up to Frankie,” Isabel said. “I thought I gave great hugs, but his were even better. He was just the warmest person.”
Frankie, who had just graduated from high school a month ago, participated in ROTC and planned to join the Marines.
“I was just super proud of him to see where he was going because he didn’t get dealt the best cards,” Isabel said.
Isabel said she admired how Frankie, along with his brothers and sisters, did not let their background and not having their parents in their lives become an excuse or obstacle for them.
“They tried to make the best of what they had and what their situation was,” she said. “They didn’t make that an excuse for what they had gone through. They were people who made themselves better.”
Additional funds raised from the GoFundMe account after funeral expenses will support a scholarship in Frankie’s name, specifically for kids who grew up in similar circumstances, away from their parents.
As far as her burgeoning career, Isabel, who is on the Q Productions label, said Frankie was a strong supporter of her music.
“Before I went on stage, and actually I have a video of it which I was really happy about,” Isabel said. “Before I got on stage he would always tell me, ‘You got this,’ and he was super proud of me.”
Despite life circumstances moving the two apart as they got older, Isabel said she remained close with Frankie.
“Even though I moved to Texas and he was in Chicago, when I saw him it was like nothing had changed,” she said. “We’d always catch up on the phone or on Snapchat.”
Regarding the support from her fans, Isabel said she has “the best fans in the world.”
“I just want to thank them,” she said. “So if they’re reading this, ‘Thank you. I love you guys.'”
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