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.