Annual Donation to The Melodies Center

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Nick’s Fight Board L-R: Liz Carr, George Sisco, Colleen Williams-Wright, Dr. Lucas (Director of Pediatric Oncology), Angie Silipigno (Child Life Specialist, Melodies Center), Janine & Lucas Cammarata, Jonathan Isaksen, Annette Romano. Not in photo: Karen & Mark Patchell, Ann Frantti, Angela Chieco & Susan Sukols

A heart full of love and time spent helping others is a good day. When we come together to share the fruit of our board and community’s hard work that is a fantastic day.

On Thursday, December 14, Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation donated $25,000 to the Child Life Specialist position at The Melodies Center at The Bernard & Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Center. In addition, we donated $15,000 toward technology needs in the new teen technology room that is currently being built in the pediatric oncology clinic.

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Lucas Cammarata, Angie Silipigno (Child Life Specialist), & Janine Cammarata

Lucas and I, as well as Annette, have seen first-hand how important and vital the child life specialist is to the children and teens being treated for cancer. They balance the medical and emotional needs of each patient. Angie is the only child life specialist in the clinic. There are more on the in-patient floor, but Angie meets every single patient as they are diagnosed. That’s 90 new patients a year, but includes all the patients who come for treatment from the previous years and check-ups from the years before that! Approximately 900 children, teens, and young adults are seen at The Melodies Center each year! Angie treats every single one of them as if they were her own. She feels their pain, revels in their successes, and holds them all in her heart. She is a major reason why we work hard all year to raise money.

Nick’s Round Table has raised money for the Teen Tech Room, and it is another huge need that we can’t wait to have filled. Teens and young adults with cancer are often in a transitional part of their life. Some are going through puberty, some are starting college, some are starting careers or life with a partner/spouse, but suddenly they are thrust into a world where they aren’t sure where they fit in. A teen/young adult’s life has not only been disrupted, but displaced.

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Nick’s Round Table L-R: Becca Abel, Angie Silipigno (Child Life Specialist), Katie Kelly, Sarah Olsen, Brittney Decker, Grace & Claire Isaksen, Rob Saba (Dir. of Development, Grateful Patients and Families at AMC)

Having this teen/young adult haven will give this specific age group a space to decompress and connect to their life outside of cancer. It can be a space where they can bond with others in their situation and hopefully feel the support we have for them and every other child diagnosed.

It was a busy year for us with families in need. Over $25,000 granted in financial assistance, $2,400 in gift cards for patients and families, $9,000 for Family Hope Bags, $2,000 in Nick’s Comfort Bags. This doesn’t include holiday support, magazines, DVDs, video games, arts & crafts, and anything else that comes to our attention. The time and effort that our board and volunteers put into making this all come together cannot even be counted. Board member Karen Patchell visits the clinic once and sometimes twice a week with Chloe our therapy dog and also to do yoga. The children absolutely love her!

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Amelia & Bella love yoga!

I couldn’t be prouder and more thankful for everyone who makes up our foundation. It’s important to sit back and absorb our accomplishments this year and since the beginning. Nick Cammarata and Luke Romano are surely proud of all we have done in their names.

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Thank you to everyone, and we look forward to continuing our mission in 2018.

We are There for You

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Know we are here for you.

The uncertainty of cancer can often be the largest stressor when your child is diagnosed. Not knowing if the treatment is working, how you will get time off from work, what the prolonged separations will do to your other children or your family unit, or where the money will come from to pay the growing bills.

Within a month of Nick being diagnosed, my friend Jen at the library said that Gina from the Catie Hoch Foundation wanted to give us gas and food gift cards. I was floored that someone would want to help a total stranger in such a basic way. We were OK, and I didn’t think I should take it when others probably needed it more.

Gina came to the library and gave me the cards. I learned something that day. Sometimes people know what you need more than you do. I accepted them, thanked her, and knew she was there if we needed anything else.

I used the cards when the daily trips to the hospital and doctors took their toll. It helped us financially, but it did more than that. Her outreach gave us that sense of community, of being cared for, of being seen, and comforted.

I never thought I would be in the same place that Gina was with her foundation. Yet here we are. I have always remembered that sense of camaraderie I felt from someone who had been on the same road as me. One of the first services Nick’s Fight to be Healed provided was financial assistance to families. Just in the last month we have supported families with gift cards for food and travel. We have paid to keep the heat on and for mortgages.

These are essentials that everyone needs to remain healthy, safe, and secure. Providing these services reduce stress, but these acts do so much more. When we send a gift card with a handwritten note, we really mean it when we say we are here for you. In addition to assisting with the financial details, we are a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, arms to wrap around you when the journey feels impossible. We are kindred spirits who have been where you have been. And even if we haven’t, as people fueled by love, we open our arms to you.

It takes more than medicine and stress reducers to get a family through a cancer diagnosis and back on the road to life. It takes people who will dig deep no matter how painful to show our families that they matter, they are cared for, loved, and valued. That they are human beings going through one of the hardest times in their lives and sometimes just need a simple hug. Or a tap dance and kiss from Chloe, our pet therapy dog.

I am so very proud of what our foundation does, as well as what the other foundations do to give back and raise up our beautiful families. Today I send out a big hug to everyone who needs it and an even bigger thank you to the selfless volunteers and staff who give their hearts, because they simply couldn’t do it any other way.

Shen Goes Gold

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L-R: Ron Agostinoni, Sarah Olsen, Kaitlyn Gilbert, Brittney Decker, Don Flynt, Amanda Hayes, Janine Cammarata

Today many at the Shenendehowa Central High School wore gold for September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Gold ribbons were handed to hundreds of students and Brittney Decker, president of Nick’s Round Table, spoke about the importance of raising awareness and the purpose of the garden.

Don Flynt, who was the principal at High School East for 20 years retired last year, and I had the pleasure to meet the new principal, Ron Agostinoni. The first thing Mr. A (as the students call him) mentioned to me is that he knew one of the kids whose picture surrounded the garden–Emily. He is good friends with her family and felt an instant connection to our cause.

He then said that he and Mr. Flynt met a couple times over the summer to help with the transition. He figured Mr. Flynt would start with all it took to run a school. However, one of the first topics mentioned was Nick’s Round Table, the importance of the Memorial Garden, and our mission to help kids fight cancer.

 

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Don Flynt honored because of his commitment to his students.

Today, in addition to raising awareness for kids battling cancer, we dedicated a stone labeled with the word ‘commitment’ to Don Flynt. He recognized that in the midst of tragedy, our young adults needed a way to take action. He provided the space, tools, and platform for them to be empowered to help others.

Don Flynt has always shown compassion and integrity, and I believe Mr. A has the same qualities. We look forward to working with him.

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For all of our children who are in the midst of their cancer battle, we are right beside you. For those who have beaten this disease, we are ecstatic for you. For our children who have gone before us, we will never forget you and keep fighting in your name.

September is Childhood Cancer awareness month, but every day our kids struggle with this disease. Make a difference today.

What Brings us Together

News about the Gillette Carnival has been flying around social media. Last week for 6 days, the show was in the Town of Halfmoon and we had the opportunity to tell hundreds of people about the foundation. It’s not often that I get to meet many of the families, but I was fortunate to meet some on a special night that we dedicated to wearing red in honor of those children fighting and in memory of Nick and those other angels who lost their battle. Each day brought new blessings.

I met Alicia who lost her teen daughter, Brandi, in 2013. She had her other children with her and it was wonderful to be able to hug her and give them a chance to bring some laughter into their lives. I was able to connect Brittney and Kacey who have similar restrictions due to their illnesses. But seeing them lively chatting together while they filled 300 bags (thank you!) was so inspiring. They refuse to let side effects run their lives. They see the magic in the moment, even though some moments are so bright.

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Little Abby and Bella both gave me heartwarming hugs, as well as all the families who came. Those connections are a lifeline when the cancer journey gets tough and so inspiring to keep us all going in our mission to fight cancer.

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Connecting is essential to battling any disease and getting through it whole. Maybe not the same as you were when you started, but whole in spirit and heart. Yes, we are never the same, but when we come together as a cancer community, we know we can get through anything and come out stronger, truer to what matters, and loved.

Thank you to the Gillette Family, the Loiselle’s who made this connection for us, Kevin Tollisen, Halfmoon Town Supervisor, all the volunteers who helped throughout the event, and the community for coming together to laugh, heal, and spread hope. In addition to all the gathering together and having fun, The Gillette Family donated $10,000 to Nick’s Fight! Our appreciation is endless!

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Only Way Out is Through

As I sit at my kitchen counter on Mother’s Day, the sun is shining through the fluffy clouds that float across the spring sky. I keep thinking of all the mothers in my life and especially those who have lost a child. It has taken me 8 years to at least get the concept of the title of this blog. It really has only been introduced to me in the last year and a half when I dedicated myself to my yoga practice. I don’t know that I would have been open to it before.

When I first lost Nick, I avoided feeling any pain. The first year I was numb, which really was my mind’s way of protecting my spirit, my heart. The second year was harder because tendrils of reality seeped back into my life, but I only let it in through cracks and crevasses, so that I wasn’t destroyed.

I have done and tried almost everything to ease the loss of missing my son, to not feel the full impact of that loss. Starting Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation was the biggest way to keep myself busy. Yes, I threw myself into the fire. After all why would someone who lost a child to cancer want to be surrounded by children with cancer? Why would I want to take the chance to open my heart just to have it broken again?

It has happened time and time again, but the joy of helping others softens the pain of losing Nick and I think I have been put in this path so that those who lose a child can be guided through the loss journey.

I am in no way an expert or feel that there is any one way to learn to live with your child in a new way. I have fallen and picked myself up countless times these past years. Just last week after we celebrated all we had done in 2015 with the foundation, I literally fell ill. For a week. So I slept and I dreamt. I allowed myself to miss my son.

Even since Monday, mothers have lost their children. It doesn’t have to be just from cancer either. There are all kinds of ways to lose your child. I thought, how do I tell these mothers to hold on when it doesn’t get better, it gets calmer and those moments of clarity pull you through.

At 1am last night my phone buzzed with a text. Stephen texted me Happy Mother’s Day. We always show and express our love. I am grateful for him.

Then I dreamt. I was in the house where I grew up that I call the Greenville House. As I come down the hall, a little boy with big brown eyes, long lashes, dark hair, and chubby cheeks wobbles toward me. Arms open dressed in a dark blue button suit and pants. His 1 year bday suit.

He exclaims, “I’m Nick! I’m Nick!” But it is the garbled voice of a baby learning to talk. I run to him and pick up my smiling boy and hold him close. He wants to go outside. So I put on his hat with a pom pom on top and has his name on it. I push his hair out of his eyes and kiss his cheek. I can feel the cool soft texture of his pink cheeks.

My boy wished me a Happy Mother’s Day in the way that he could. I woke up calm and let the feelings flow through me. Yes, it is freaking hard and it hurts. But the feeling went through and out and I felt all right with what is. Because of this, I experienced the love of both my boys. How blessed and thankful and I for that.

For all the mothers who have lost your child, no matter how or when, do what you have to do to get through the next moment and then day in your life. However works for you. Don’t apologize, don’t worry what others think. Don’t overthink it. Do what your heart and soul needs. Just don’t give up. Someday as you go through the pain, perhaps you will be able to be with what is. My wish to you is that your child visits you and shows you how to live with him/her in a new way.

Much love and peace your way today and always.

Celebrating Life

Abby and Matt’s First Dance Celebration was on November 16. The response to the news coverage is absolutely mind boggling and exciting. Raising awareness for childhood cancer is paramount to getting more funding for research and really understanding what our children need during a diagnosis and after treatment.
Abby has learned the lesson of friendship and helping others through her nurse, Matt.
That being said, this event wasn’t about the “marriage” between Abby and Matt, which really was a selfless act of compassion and support. It was about giving love to a 4-year-old girl who has cancer. It’s about having the courage to face a disease that you have no control over. It’s about hoping that your child will beat cancer and grow up to go to college, get married, have children if they want. Basically to live their own life. It’s about celebrating their good days and rising them up on their bad days.
Mom and daughter getting the chance to dress up and take a break from treatment. Just beautiful.
As a parent of a child who died from cancer, I am forever grateful to everyone who reached out to Nick and made his days extra special. I am thankful for the nurses who made a big deal that they got to take care of him, to the residents who sat and talked to him about his life, his interests, his fears. I am in awe of the nurses, social workers, and doctors who celebrated him becoming a teen while he was in the hospital on his 13th birthday. I am humbled by the child life specialist who paid enough attention to know that Nick loved the Giants and not only got him a sweatshirt, but tickets to the Giants practice session, so he could meet Eli Manning.
Cotton candy is a must at every celebration!
These memories are priceless and get me through every day that I miss my son. And that is every day. Every single day I miss my child who is no longer with me, but am so glad he had these moments.
Creating smiles and laughter heals.
These memories are a huge part of the reason why I volunteer most of my time raising money to help fund the child life specialist position at The Melodies Center. This is why Nick’s Fight provides services to improve children’s lives, to make them happier, and smile more while in the hospital.
Sometimes the parents need just as much of a break as the kids, helping to keep that strong foundation.
It’s why we don’t care if we raised money at Abby and Matt’s event. It was about giving these children a beautiful, fun evening in a safe and non-judgmental environment.
This event created precious moments to celebrate and enjoy life.
Matt & his wife, Karli

Abby formed a powerful bond with Matt’s wife. This friendship will last forever.

I am grateful for Matt, Abby, Courtney, Angie,and Abby’s family for trusting Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation enough to give them this night.

L-R: Courtney Hill (social worker), Kendra Sisco (cancer survivor), Angie Silipigno (child life specialist)
I am blessed to have met so many children who have taught me to follow my dreams and live every moment in love and acceptance. 
 I wish Love, Courage, Hope, Life, Peace to all of you.

There’s Nothing Like Girl Time!

There’s nothing like having a couple girls come to where you live with bags of goodies and lots of hugs.

There’s nothing like four other girls arriving with balloons and laughter and even more hugs!

This was the scene at the Ronald McDonald House (RMHC) in Albany on Sunday. Naya was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic leukemia in December 2013 and is still in treatment. Recently Tim Stowell of the Green Drakkoman Foundation posted on Facebook that Naya and her family were being evicted because their landlord refused to fix and address some code violations that negatively affected Naya’s health. They were homeless and Naya was in the hospital.

Doing what they do best, Debbie Ross and the RMHC of the Capital Region welcomed Naya, her 5-year-old sister and parents into their home. The stress that was reduced because of this was priceless. Imagine having a child with cancer and no home to go to.

Katie Collins, the co-president of Nick’s Round Table, saw Naya’s post and immediately went into action. She wanted to do a fundraiser for her and brought it up at their monthly meeting. Leaves of Life were added to a tree that Erin Doescher drew with incredible skill for a $1 donation. The group raised $153.00. By the way underneath those leaves are the most intricately drawn branches and a heart.

Maya’s Tree of Life–Front Row L-R: Mackenzie & Naya; Back Row L-R: Katie Collins, Lauren Sawicki, Liz Sibson, Maddy Healy, Kendra Sisco, Becca Abel

Next, Katie reached out to Tina, Naya’s mom, to arrange meeting the family and spend time with Naya and her sister, Mackenzie. She reached out to the board and including myself, 7 of us went to share some girl time.

Naya opened the door before we could even ring the bell. She anxiously waited to meet Katie Collins and Lauren Sawicki who were just as excited to meet her. They came bearing gifts like a huge donut pillow and a purple hat and scarf that Naya didn’t take off and best friends necklaces for Naya and her sister.

Then Kendra Sisco entered with brightly colored balloons, followed by Maddy Healy, Becca Abel, and Liz Sibson. The girls were ecstatic! With enough energy to light all of Albany, the girls headed outside, which gave their mom a little breathing room and time to decompress.

Naya holding one of her balloons and vibrantly wearing her new hat and scarf!

What struck me the most about Tina was her positive attitude and deep gratefulness. She told me that Nick’s Family Hope Bag was the first connection to anyone when Naya was diagnosed. She read the brochure about Nick, who had the same exact diagnosis as Naya. Instead of feeling dread, she felt like she was being taken care of and comforted. She knew they would be all right.

Lauren and Naya

Katie with Mackenzie and Naya out by the playground

Liz and Naya goofing around in the playroom!

So many people and foundations have come stepped up to help this family stay together. The love that filled the room yesterday can only heal. The beauty and synchronicity of reaching out and giving because you can’t imagine doing anything else is what makes this world a fantastic place to be.

Until the next girl time, Naya!

If you would like to support any of these foundations and Naya directly, please visit these websites:

Team Naya Ninja in Training You Care Fundraiser

Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation

Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region

Green Drakkoman Foundation

Happy Birthday, Luke!

Diners could add an encouraging note to children battling cancer. These are placed with Luke Legacy pillows.
Be LukeStrong. How many times over these past years has that motto sustained us and kept us on our mission? I can tell you for me it has been hundreds. Today we get to celebrate the birth of an amazing young man who touched so many lives through his generosity, his wit, his amazing intelligence, and love of life.

Jaclyn and Marcus with their grandparents!
Yesterday the celebration was in full swing as the owners of Pasta Pane held a fundraiser in memory of Luke and to celebrate his birthday and what he meant to them. His favorite foods were served (Spinach salad, Penne Vodka & Zeppole). Many members of his family, friends, and those in the community who just love and miss him gathered together to talk about the memories and raise money for his legacy. 100% of proceeds were donated to Luke’s Legacy.

What a legacy Luke started. The Luke Legacy pillows, plush king-size down are the most popular addition to Nick’s Comfort Bags. On each table, there was a notecard explaining the story behind the pillow and a spot where everyone could write an encouraging message to a child battling cancer. Luke was there guiding the words. 

Annette Romano is a source of strength to me and this foundation, finding a positive way to remember her son.
His mom, Annette, an incredible and hard-working member of Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation’s Board of Directors organizes the Family Hope Bags, along with her children Jaclyn and Marcus. Luke’s Legacy allows us to keep giving newly diagnosed family hope.

Scholarships to students who have the same passion as Luke and who look to a future full of excitement, joy, and goodness raise awareness and keep Luke’s spirit strong as his memory empowers others.

Luke fit a lifetime in the 17 years he was physically with us, but he continues to change lives and effect change. Write a birthday note on his Facebook Page and let his family know how much he is loved, although from the number of people who came to Pasta Pane yesterday, they know.

A big thank you to David Zecchini and the entire staff who were absolutely fabulous. We always appreciate your support and willingness to let us take over your restaurant! We couldn’t do what we do without you!
Friends and family enjoying great food!

Happy Birthday, Luke! Balloons and Kisses to you in Heaven.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month–But Every Day Children Suffer

Today starts the daily campaign for this month to raise awareness about how many children are diagnosed with cancer–90 children a year just at The Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Albany Medical Center.
Today we need to understand the support that each and every one of those 90 children and their family need in order to survive a cancer diagnosis. It’s emotional, financial, physical and spiritual support.
Today we push to find a cure. According to the National Cancer Institute, the most common types of cancer diagnosed in children and adolescents are leukemia, brain and central nervous system tumors, lymphoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, neuroblastoma, Wilms tumor, bone cancer, and gonadal (testicular and ovarian) germ cell tumors. 
Nick Rychcik may not be familiar with these common forms of cancer, but he knows way too much about the cancer that for the past year has turned his life upside down. 9-year-old Nick was diagnosed with Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Sarcoma in October 2013, a very rare and aggressive form of cancer. His tumor was found on September 25. In addition to the surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, and other painful procedures, Nick is currently undergoing treatment at Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital.
Nick Rychcik and his mom, Kelly (photo courtesy of Elizabeth Fox Photography)
Nick’s procedure is called Intraperitoneal Therapy. Anti-cancer drugs are delivered directly into the abdominal cavity and are left there to bathe the cancer. This study called I-8H9 phase 1 has only been done on 20 patients so far. Nick will feel a lot of abdominal pressure, his breathing will be faster and heaver due to the large volume of fluid. Currently, Nick is home, but the treatment has caused him to be continually sick. He goes back to Sloan tomorrow and will get his schedule for three weeks of radiation. 
The Rychcik family is one of the 90 children dealing with a similar situation of being separated from siblings, parents, and friends. Nick should be school shopping and preparing to hang out with his friends at school, but instead is battling to save his life. 
Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation fights for Nick and is supporting this family to help get them through this difficult time. Nick is our warrior for Nick’s Run to be Healed 5K on Sunday, September 28, 2014.  Go to www.fighttobehealed.org to find out how you can participate and support our never-ending mission.
On September 13, the Capital Region Childhood Cancer Coalition is sponsoring a September Gold Family Day. This is for every family battling cancer or wanting to support a family with cancer. There will be a ton of fun events. Please spread the word about what we do.

Everyone is invited to come to this event. Please help us make it a huge success!

Sustaining a Foundation

Tonight was the Southern Saratoga Relay for Life at Shenendehowa High School track. For the past five years, members of Nick’s Round Table, our family and so many other families affected by cancer have attended. Stephen enjoys being with his friends and remembering his brother in such a supportive environment.
This is the first time since we have been attending Relay for Life that we couldn’t go, because of Stephen’s soccer commitment. We are in New Jersey and missing everyone at this event. The picture of the luminaria was sent to me and it made me cry. Relay for Life is so emotional and I always feel that I need to be there. It’s very hard for me to not be in control of an event, which I’m working on! I should not have worried. My good friends remember Nick lit with love. 
I’m sure the event ran smoothly under the command of Captain Katie Collins who not only took care of getting people to sign up for the event and volunteer, but made sure everything was set up. Annette Romano and Karen Patchell over saw the event, while Rachael Murray and her mom celebrated Rachael’s positive day at the clinic. Nick was remembered and his legacy is continued by others so that I could be with Stephen at his soccer tournament.
Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation prospers because of these amazing people who are willing to take the time to be at an event that means just as much to them as it does to me and my family. The foundation is strong because of survivors like Ben Mayo who share their story and connect to others.
Tonight I thank everyone who attended the Relay for Life and I’m sad I didn’t get to see Brianna Dioses and the other Round Table Alum! I am blessed to have a community that not only supports our mission, but personally supports our family.

One Step at a Time

Dante Gallucci is a 15-year-old promising young athlete at Schalmont High School.  He plays basketball and football and runs track for his school. In April of 2014, Dante had four wisdom teeth pulled and his neck swelled up. When antibiotics didn’t help, he had a scan taken to determine the cause. On May 30, 2013 Dante was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma and has been in treatment at The Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders.

Built and well over 6′, Dante and his family would never have imagined that this would be their journey. Ironically, he was diagnosed just after he met Rachael Murray, another cancer patient, at her Trending4Fashion Show fundraiser for LLS. Wanting to give to others, Dante didn’t realize that he would soon be on the receiving end.
As we have found countless times over, the chemotherapy that is needed to cure patients causes negative side effects. Dante’s chemo badly damaged his legs, but fortunately got his body into remission in the first month. To any young adult struggling with being sick and dealing with physical changes, the side effects can be very traumatizing. To an athlete at the peak of his performing ability, it can be discouraging and emotionally stressful. Being a part of a team and working out with those teammates is a ritual and bonding experience.
Dante Gallucci 

Dante’s teammates did an amazing job keeping his spirits strong during their football season. Currently, Dante needs to use a wheelchair. He goes to physical therapy and that ‘can do’ attitude keeps him positive and focused on his goal–to walk again. His athletic training has probably played a huge part in his determination to get better.

In addition to the costs of treatment, travel, and food, there’s the physical therapy costs.  Dante needed bilateral ankle braces to help him walk. Luckily, his family has good health insurance, but when his mom can’t work because she is his main caregiver and the bills add up, any family will struggle with these extra costs.

Meeting Dante and his mom, Teri at his Slamtastic fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation
Photo courtesy of Michael A. Panzarino–M.A.P. Graphics

That’s where Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation comes in. We are so glad to be able to support the Gallucci family and help pay for his leg braces. When we can do this, then Dante can physically get better. He has something to look forward to–being able to stand on his own two feet. That’s important for a young adult who is striving for independence so he can eventually be on his own after high school. But it’s also literal in that when he can walk again, he will get physically stronger and can get back to playing the sports that he loves so much.

The foundation could not help Dante and the four other patients we helped in January without our generous supporters, so we thank all of you.

When I visited Dante and Teri in the hospital, after learning how to use his own IV, Dante spoke about giving back and the fashion show fundraiser he is helping to coordinate to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. He gives back without thinking about himself. He gives because he has personally seen and felt what cancer has done to him and his peers.

I am so honored and blessed to know this family. I see my Nick in Dante. Nick would have been right there asking, “What can I do to make your day better?” I’m even more blessed because his brother, Stephen, has taken the lead to fulfill his brother’s legacy and will be helping Dante at the Trending4Fashion Fashion Show to Benefit LLS.

When I see what Nick’s legacy had done and how many of our young people are getting involved to help others, it lightens my grief for a moment. I am forever hopeful that we will one day say farewell to cancer and end our children’s suffering. But like Dante, we are taking it one step at a time.