Once Upon A Hero’s 2021 beneficiary family is the Palumbo family. Anthony and Diana are the parents of 4-year-old twins named Enzo and Anastasia (Sia). On Sunday March 29th of 2020, the family went for a walk along the river at Cascade Park in New Castle, PA. The river level was high due to many days of rainy weather. They were about to feed the ducks when a large tree snapped and fell on top of the family. Anthony and Enzo escaped with minor injuries. Diana and Sia were knocked into the water and sustained severe injuries. Sia’s heart stopped. A passer-by stopped and performed CPR, reviving her. Sia sustained an eye injury and 9 different skull fractures. Diana suffered a spinal compression fracture which required immediate surgery. She also had 4 broken ribs, a collapsed lung and her shoulder was completely shattered. Diana has undergone multiple surgeries for her injuries and continues to recover. She is unable to work as she recovers and Anthony is taking care of her and their children. Once Upon A Hero will assist the Palumbo family with their financial challenges due to unexpected medical bills and loss of work as they continue to recover.
Josh and Bethany Jaworowski are the parents of 16 month old twins, Jayden and Josiah. Jayden and Josiah have been diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disease called MECP2 Duplication Syndrome. MECP2 Duplication Syndrome is extremely rare (maybe 1,000 cases worldwide).
No two children experience MECP2 Duplication Syndrome the same way. Jayden and Josiah both have low muscle tone, significant developmental delays, difficulty swallowing, feeding difficulties and have g-tubes. Josiah also has breathing difficulties, seizures and possible immunosuppression. He has been hospitalized for going into respiratory distress from a common cold. They both have several specialists and receive multiple therapies each week.
Half of those affected by MECP2 Duplication Syndrome never walk or talk. Life expectancy is on average 26 years old. Recurrent infections can cause life-threatening complications and are a major contributing factor for reduced life-expectancy. The Jaworowski's are a single income family and Once Upon A Hero will be helping them with the medical and personal financial challenges they meet while fighting this disease affecting Jayden and Josiah.
Shortly before his 26th birthday, Stephen Popson went to the ER because his heart was not functioning properly. He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in addition to being septic and having H1N1 complications. Over the next four years, there was hope that his heart condition would improve. He had multiple hospital stays, but each time he was able to return to work. In April of this year, he went into cardiac arrest and it was determined that Stephen had multi-organ failure due to his heart not pumping blood effectively through his body. After reviving Stephen, he required 4 open heart surgeries within 6 days. Procedures included insertion of a pace maker, implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), and a bridge to transplant pump (LVAD) – all to assist with helping his heart pump blood. Once the physicians deem him recovered from the surgeries, he will be added to the organ recipient list for a new heart. Stephen is unable to work and provide for his family of five.They have no income and many financial burdens during his challenging road to recovery.
Kristofer, a Butler County resident, was only 19-months old when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Mesenchymal Chondrosarcoma. Shortly after his diagnosis, Kristofer had surgery to remove the tumor. It was during that surgery that his doctors realized that the aggressive cancer had taken its toll on Kristofer and that the best course of action would be to remove his leg due to the quickly spreading cancer and the extreme likelihood of recurrence. Funds raised by OUAH will help to alleviate the financial burden caused by frequent trips to New York for examinations and adjustments to his prosthesis.
Grace, a resident of Butler, PA, was born prematurely with a long list of medical issues including a brain defect that causes her to have seizures. Her muscles are tight and weak due to Cerebral Palsy. She has undergone multiple surgeries in her short life, and her lungs are so weak that her family struggles to make sure she doesn't get sick. She receives visits from home nurses many hours per week. Funds raised for Grace were for the remodeling of her bedroom to help her parents and visiting nurses better care for her.
Fred and Janet McIntyre, of Evans City, PA, lost the well water on their property due to chemical contamination. They received a water buffalo, but because their home is on a dead-end road that is not publicly maintained, the trucks that were sent to refill the water buffalo were unable to do so. Both Fred and Janet suffer from several health issues. Janet suffers from Leukemia and has kidney problems, as well as back pain from an old injury. Fred has Emphysema and heart problems. Both of them are on disability and unable to work. Their youngest daughter also has special needs. OUAH raised funds to make the improvements to their driveway so the trucks could deliver the water without getting stuck.
Amelia Boccardi was diagnosed with aplastic anemia when she was only 3 years old. Aplastic anemia occurs when the bone marrow stops making enough red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets for the body causing reduced immunity to infection, fatigue and frequent, uncontrolled bleeding. A bone marrow transplant is probable, and is the only thing that can truly cure her disease. Funds raised for Amelia assisted her family with uncontrollable expenses such as gas, parking and food for extended hospital visits.
Tom Palkovic, from Economy Borough, has had lifelong kidney issues. Tom suffered with high blood pressure because of his failing kidneys and endured long hours of dialysis. Tom worked full-time as an automotive technician at a body collision shop while getting dialysis three days a week for four hours at a time. He was working weekends to make up for lost wages because his job did not offer paid sick time or short- or long-term disability pay. OUAH raised money for Tom to alleviate the financial burden the situation was causing him.
On December 17, 2012, Daniel Branchen's life changed forever. Unexpectedly, a blood clot formed in Daniel's left leg that traveled through his body causing total organ failure and led to cardiac arrest. As a result of the lack of oxygen to his brain, Dan ended up with severe brain damage. He also lost his left leg and spent 8 months in the hospital. OUAH raised money for him and his family to purchase a handicapped accessible van.
Dominic LeFebvre was born on August 14th, 2013. He has Trisomy 18 and although he is currently back in the hospital, doctors are impressed with everything that he has overcome. He has a lot of daily care and doctors appointments and our goal is to help him and his family with a lot of the medical bills they have. Dominic's Mom stays home now and takes care of little Dommie full time and we want to help lift the financial strain that this has caused.
Do you know of a deserving family that is currently experiencing hard times due to tragedy or illness? Do you want to help relieve the financial burden they are experiencing or help them in some other way to make their lives easier and show that you care? We accepting applications for next year's beneficiary family. Contact us for more information. Making a difference in your community starts with YOU!
When you donate to Once Upon a Hero, you are contributing to the health and well-being of families in western Pennsylvania who are in need. Due to the generosity of our donors, we are better able to provide these families with financial assistance for medical equipment and supplies, travel expenses for doctor's appointments and therapy or to make up for lost wages due to an accident or illness. We are grateful to the many donors who have given so generously in the past as many families have benefited immensely from your support. Please know that each gift is truly appreciated and helps ordinary people like us to do extraordinary things! Once Upon a Hero is a Section 501(c)(3) organization, so your donations are tax deductible!You may donate online via PayPal or mail donations by check made out to Once Upon A Hero and send to PO Box 2234 Cranberry Township, PA 16066. Questions? Feel free to email us on our Contact page