In the middle of a horrific tragedy, the death of his mother and 12-year-old sister in a car crash last week, Angelo Pizarro tweeted at, of all people, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Angelo’s mom was a huge fan, and Pizarro thought that if the celebrity would just say her name — Aileen Pizarro — it would bring a small amount of relief to the shock and unrelenting sorrow.
Twitter agreed, and within a day, the tweet was retweeted tens of thousands of times. The plea reached its intended target.
Soon, Johnson was recording a video saying Aileen Pizarro’s name, offering “love and light” and even appearing to get emotional at the thought of the tragedy affecting people he did not know.
“From what I’m told, your mom was a very, very big fan of mine, so anyway, man, I am sending so much love and light and strength your way from my family to yours, and I just want to say thanks for reaching out, man, and I’m so sorry to hear about your sister and your mom and this tragic loss you and your family are going through,” The Rock said in the video.
He wiped his eye and continued: “If your mom can see me now, which I’m sure she can, I just want to thank her for all the love and for being such a big fan.”
Aileen and Aryana Pizarro were killed on a San Diego highway on Aug. 23, as they were heading to pick up Aryana’s contact lenses. Trevor Heitmann, a YouTube star known as McSkillet, slammed into them, reportedly at over 100 miles an hour, as he went the wrong way on a one-way highway driving a McLaren 650S. Heitman, who friends said had been struggling with depression, also died.
Angelo Pizarro hoped The Rock would turn the funeral, planned for Sept. 8, into something that would have made his mother smile.
“She saw The Rock as more than a celebrity. My mom was a single mom; she wanted me to have positive male role models. She saw The Rock as a mama’s boy,” Pizarro said. “She’d say, ‘He bought his mom a house and a car.’ She knew I’m a mama’s boy, too.”
He said the video that The Rock sent was just what she would have wanted.
“I know she’s smiling down and laughing that I got him to say her name,” he said. “That means a lot to me.”
He said his sister, a self-described “brainiac,” was excited to begin seventh grade and would have started a few days after the crash. She was looking forward to school so much, in fact, that she had already laid out the outfit she planned to wear on the first day of school, including a shirt with a unicorn. In her honor, Pizarro and his brother Dominic, 22, got tattoos of a unicorn. They also set up a GoFundMe to help with funeral and other expenses.
Angelo Pizarro said his mother, 43, a marriage and family counselor, was someone who wasn’t happy unless she was helping others.
“If she was at an event and saw the housekeeping staff, she’d go and sweep and mop with them,” he said. “That’s just how she was.”
In addition to The Rock, the Pizarro also tweeted at Aryana’s favorite singer, Alessia Cara, who also responded with a heartfelt message.
Pizarro said the celebrity love has made a big difference, because now the story of his mother and sister has elements of positivity.
“We’ve been able to turn the narrative of the car crash from a ‘car in flames,’ and we changed that into pervasive love and hope and about my sister and my mom.”