Two boys brought together by fate...              
                            It's not only their story,
                                                        it's Our Story

About "Our Story"
Dustin Meraz
Trisha Meraz
The Farrand Family

Giselle Fernandez-Farrand - Producer
Sheila Higgins - Co-Producer/Editor
John Farrand

  Documentary Film at

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"Our Story" titled by Dustin Meraz
          as told by Giselle Fernandez-Farrand

    There's an old saying: "Life is what happens to you after you make your plans." Our Story certainly proves that. Whether coincidence or fate, the families and friendships forged in the making of this film make you wonder if the universe really does have a grand plan and a reason for everything.

Five time Emmy award winning journalist, Giselle Fernandez, filmed, produced, wrote and lived "Our Story" even before she knew her documentary would hit home and involve her own family.

While anchoring a local morning show in Los Angeles, Fernandez, growing increasingly discouraged by the news profession she loved, was searching for ways to make her life more meaningful. Her new husband, who had just left corporate America for the first time in 40 years, was also questioning the meaning of life and how one makes a difference aside from your work.

Dustin Meraz

Just at this moment in time, ironically, Fernandez received a call from the Childrens Hospital in Los Angeles, asking her to help raise awareness and money for the predominantly Latino patients it served. It couldn't have come at a better time.

That's how Fernandez first heard about a little boy wonder, celebrated for being part little boy and part wise old sage, wrapped up into one very sick body. Eleven year old Dustin Meraz was racing against the clock in a fight for his life against a killer cancer and yet displayed the most giving nature and upbeat and unique outlook on life.

Dustin had developed quite a mystical philosophy of what life is about and what makes it meaningful. He also knew he was on a mission to leave his legacy in film with the hope that sharing his day to day battle with cancer would inspire grownups to take action and find a cure.

It was his social worker who approached Fernandez about helping Dustin fulfill his dream to make a documentary about his fight for life.

For the husband and wife team, the opportunity couldn't have come at a better time. They thought they would be doing something meaningful for a little boy. They had no idea, how much he would end up doing for them.


Six weeks into the filming, the most amazing thing happened. John's fifteen month old grandson, Nash, was diagnosed with liver cancer and admitted right next door to Dustin - same doctors, nurses - same desperate desire to save their lives.

The two families became one and tell the story of their remarkable journey together. These two families represent the triumph and tragedy of what's possible when kids get cancer. It also opens a window into the mystery of the universe that makes you wonder if people really are brought together for a reason. What we learn for sure - when you answer a calling and decide to care, you really can make a difference.

Two little boys, brought together by fate, unlock the secrets to a meaningful life and remind us that "life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away."

The film's powerful message calls on all grownups to do something about the devastation of childhood cancer. But it says more about the courage of the brave spirit of a little boy who wanted us to understand it's not just his story - saving kids lives is all of our story - and turning strangers into friends by caring is the secret to making a difference in the world.

Dustin Meraz

Dustin Joseph Meraz

    At ten years old, Dustin Joseph Meraz, a regular boy growing up in Palmdale California, was diagnosed with a killer cancer called neuroblastoma, and coped with his fate in an extraordinary way.

He knew the odds were against him and yet was determined to do all he could to make a difference and leave his mark on the world, should he pass away.

He had a mystical, magical insight on the meaning of life and found himself on a mission to share his story with grown-ups, with the hope he'd inspire them to help all kids with cancer.

He also was intent on sharing his philosophy of life and encouraged adults to enjoy their days, not to take them for granted and to reach out to those in need.

He sought out journalist Giselle Fernandez-Farrand to help him make a documentary about him in the last weeks of his life. It was during the filming that a member of Farrand's own family was also diagnosed with cancer.

Farrand's husband's grandson, Nash, at fifteen months old, was rushed to Childrens Hospital Los Angeles with liver cancer and in a surreal twist of fate, was admitted right next door to Dustin, sharing the same ward, doctors, nurses and care givers.

Two boys brought together by fate share a journey, as told by both families, who forged a bond so unique and rare, it both warms your heart and breaks it at the same time.

It's not just their story, it's Our Story -- the story of remarkable spirits drawn together to make a difference in the world just by having the courage to care.

Dustin's legacy is this film and the hearts he touched along the way, making sure every last breath went into this dream.

Trisha Meraz

    Trisha Meraz was born in Santa Paula Mexico to Alfonso and Maria Sandoval. Maria grew up in Mexico City and Alfonso's parents were farm workers in Santa Paula. Together they had five children whom they raised with a strong sense of family values and Catholic beliefs. Trisha, the oldest of the five, married Dave Meraz in 1986 and moved to Los Angeles County. They have 3 children, Christi, David Tyler and Dustin.

Trisha Meraz & Family
Trisha's relationship with Childrens Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) began when her youngest, Dustin, then 10 years old, was diagnosed with a terminal illness known as Neuroblastoma (a pediatric cancer) and was admitted to CHLA for treatment. Together, the family and Dustin spent much time at the hospital and soon became acquainted with many members of the staff as well as other families on the cancer ward. Eventually they even started decorating their nurse's station to brighten up the environment for the children. Trisha's bittersweet love affair with CHLA continues to this day, two years after Dustin lost his battle with cancer.

Along with being a devoted mother to her family, Trisha finds time to teach catechism at her local church, serves as a parent leader for Palmdale Hills 4-H, volunteers with her family at the CHLA Sports Jam, and is a member of the board for the Pediatric Palliative Care Coalition for CHLA. She also volunteers with the ELF program at CHLA, a Meraz holiday tradition where they adopt a family for Christmas and purchase gifts the family requests. As Dustin was very active in decorating the North Pole scene at the hospital for ELF, they have now continued the tradition to decorate it every year in his memory.

As if all this wasn't enough to fill her time, Trisha also heads a group of volunteers to participate in the Paul Newman annual "Make A Difference Day," sponsored by the national publication USA Weekend. The volunteers make food, bake cookies and cupcakes to decorate, organize carnival games, and bring books to read to the children of the CHLA 4th floor pediatric cancer ward. These volunteer visits make the children feel special, whether it's watching TV with them, coloring the color books made by the volunteers or just holding their hands. This is also a special time for the parents as it gives them a chance to relax and enjoy watching their child just being a kid again.

Dustin receives his SAG Card

In August 2003, when Dustin would have celebrated his 12th birthday and five months after his passing, the Meraz family organized a golf tournament in Dustin's memory for palliative care and neuroblastoma research for CHLA. The event was held at Rancho Vista Golf Course in Palmdale and raised over $10,000.

The Meraz family is starting a non-profit organization for families with cancer. "Remember Me", The Dustin Meraz Foundation. This foundation is to help other families with pediatric cancer and make others aware that "Kids Have Cancer Too". This was a goal of Dustin.

Trisha's ultimate accomplishment, however, was supporting her family through the year that Dustin was going through treatment. They both always helped newly diagnosed families by holding their hands, giving them hugs, and making sure they knew that whatever they needed they would be there to help. Dustin gave Trisha her remarkable strength and wisdom. As she watched him mature month to month, she also was astounded by his sense of caring and love for others. Dustin taught her so much more than anyone, and from this she is able to give of herself what Dustin knew was important in life. She is convinced that if she can do a quarter of what Dustin did in his short 11 years, she will have accomplished her own purpose in life.

The young Farrand Family

    Nash is now 3-1/2 years old and is going on 2 years in remission. He has to be in remission for 5 years before we can stop going in for tests. As present, Nash goes in for blood work and check-ups every 3 months. He gets a scan of his chest and abdomen every 6 months. Nash is a happy and healthy little guy.

Mother, Kristin, is trying to stay involved with Children's Hospital by taking family portraits for the patients on the 4th floor in the cancer ward. There are various other events that she is staying involved with and is dedicated to raising donations for the hospital.

Father, Jason, is staying very busy with his production company and by helping with various fund raising events.

Both mom and dad are happy that their whole family is together. Sisters Megan and Mara are almost 13 and 9 years old and have learned so much at such young ages about cancer and hospitals. Both are doing very well, and even though their baby brother torments them, they couldn't imagine life without him. Life is as usual in the Farrand household.

Giselle Fernandez-Farrand

Giselle Fernandez-Farrand

    Born in Mexico, raised and educated in California, Giselle Fernandez-Farrand pursues a genuine passion for journalism. Her accomplished career includes an impressive list of credentials and has earned five Emmy Awards.

As president of her own production company, Skinny Hippo Productions and Co-President of F-Squared Inc., Fernandez produces and develops projects for film and television.

As a national and international correspondent for the CBS and NBC networks, Fernandez has covered such major stories as the Gulf War, the US Invasions of Haiti and Panama, the Somalia and Bosnian Wars, Hurricane Andrew, the 1993 World Trade Center and Oklahoma City bombings and was the first reporter in twenty years to interview Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in English.

Giselle's inimitable and entertaining interviewing and reporting (she calls herself the original "Kosher Burrito") were most recently featured weekdays as co-anchor of the KTLA Morning News in Los Angeles. In addition, Giselle had her own interview program on the Si Tv Cable Network, titled Cafe Ole and has published a series of children's books called Gigi and the Birthday Ring. She is head of her own production companies, concentrating on productions for both Spanish and English language networks and recently completed a documentary about a little boy wonder with cancer who had a dream to change the world, called Our Story.

Sheila Higgins

Sheila Higgins - Co-Producer/Editor

    For the past twenty years Sheila Higgins has worked as a director, producer, editor and videographer with a passion for projects that shine a light on the human experience. At John Jay Publications in New York, Ms. Higgins was assistant editor dealing with criminal justice issues before moving to Los Angeles to join Avton Entertainment, as the assistant to the director. From there she joined the start-up efforts for cable television network Movietime Television as an audio technician, videographer and eventually becoming an assistant producer. Ms. Higgins then moved to E! Entertainment Television and worked for eight years as Videographer/Producer on such shows as:   Academy Awards, Emmy and Grammy Specials, Talk Soup, Behind the Scenes, Extreme Closeup, The Gossip Show, FYE, Casey's Top Ten, and E! True Hollywood Stories, traveling throughout North America.

Since leaving E! Entertainment she has worked as an Editor for Tribune/KTLA News and Special Projects where she won 1st Place from the Greater Los Angeles Press Club for Female Goalie, and nominated for an Emmy for The Rose Bowl; Behind the Scenes. As Producer/Editor she again worked throughout North America for Fit-TV's Healthy Living and as director/producer/editor for the behind the scenes special The Making of a Professional League for Body by Jake and FOX Television. At SiTV Network she has worked as producer/editor on the reality series Urban Jungle, an hour-long series bridging the gap between people from various cultures, and a half-hour series Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, the show that interrupts your meal to get your opinion on current topics. She also worked on the feature film GET A JOB. Ms. Higgins recently completed a documentary about a little boy with cancer who had a dream to change the world, called Our Story.

John Farrand

John Stuart Farrand

    John Stuart Farrand was President/CEO of Panavision Inc. from 1985 to January 2003. Over a period of 18 years, Farrand grew Panavision into the premiere motion picture camera company it is today with operations all over the world. He also took Panavision into the digital age with both camera innovations as well with E-Film, Hollywood's leading edge digital laboratory.

Prior to Panavision, Farrand was President of Atari World Wide, the video game and computer manufacturing giant. It was at seventeen that Farrand first entered the world of business as president of a large private conglomerate where he spearheaded operations in main frame computer manufacturing, music and video systems, together with one of the first video tape rental operations in Europe.

Throughout an illustrious 35 year career, Farrand, known for his pioneering management style and visionary innovations, built three leading edge international companies. His name world-wide has become synonymous with best of breed, high quality businesses.


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Portrait Photos by Kristin Farrand
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