• Image about Tom Walsh

The story of one man’s quest to save lives — and to establish quality health care — in Los Cabos, Mexico.

IN A MATTER OF SECONDS, TOM WALSH’S quiet, palatial Los Cabos beach house morphs into an adrenalized kinder-camp. In a pool overlooking the treacherous Sea of Cortez, four boys are splashing and swimming in their skivvies. Ricardo, who’s more self-conscious than the four in the water, sheds only his sneakers, swimming fully clothed in jeans and a black-and-yellow T-shirt that reads “attitude adjustment.” A girl in a red-and-pink-plaid dress draws her toes through the water while a tiny, impish boy tosses a football across the spray and spatter to Walsh, who stands at the edge of the pool.

A native of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the 61-year-old Walsh is in many ways a typical Midwesterner: beefy, unassuming, self-made. And in the presence of these kids, Walsh does what any South Dakotan icicle would do in the strong Cabo sun: He melts and drips. He high-fives. He jokes with the children. And he speaks his rudimentary Spanish in a melodious toddler-babble cadence.

The kids have just finished eating a meal of chicken and beef fajitas, black beans, homemade salsa with impossibly fine minced tomatoes, fresh guacamole, and thick, brittle tortilla chips that are the perfect size and shape for scooping. By all rights, though, the children shouldn’t be here. “These kids have hit the lottery,” Walsh says. The jackpot he’s referring to is neither the pool with the stunning ocean view nor the stately living room where the children romp. It’s the fact that they’re here at all — alive and well.

Barbara, the girl wearing the plaid dress, was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of six. Now eight, she is in good health. Ricardo was born with a clubfoot and a shortened leg. After a two-year treatment process that included numerous surgeries and several excruciatingly painful bone-lengthening treatments whereby his leg was stretched with screws and metal rods, he can now easily slip into a pair of tennis shoes.