Schoolmates eager to help Palatine kindergartner's plight
Palatine third grader Devyn Oak likes to save her money the old fashioned way, under her mattress.
Over the recent holiday season alone, which included her birthday, she stashed away quite a tidy sum, her parents say, keeping it for a rainy day.
Well, it appears that rainy day came.
Devyn and her classmates at Stuart Paddock Elementary School in Palatine rallied around kindergartner Rosie Colucci, who suffers from Neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorders that causes tumors to grow anywhere throughout the body.
She was diagnosed with the disease in 2007, and within five weeks doctors discovered an inoperable brain tumor along with a series of other complications, including excessive growth hormones and hydrocephalus, a life-threatening condition in which fluid can build up on the brain.
Rosie recently began a third round of chemotherapy in an effort to shrink the tumor, that could last for 24 months.
"She has this amazing, incredible spirit," says Rosie's mother, JoAnne. "She faces difficult things every day and long hours down at the hospital (Children's Memorial), but she's always smiling, and just connects with other kids."
Devyn was so touched by Rosie's story she wanted to contribute all of her savings to a fundraising drive at Paddock School for research into her disease, called Racing 4 Research.
"I just wanted to try to raise enough money so she could find a cure," Devyn said.
Her parents, Dave and April, convinced her to scale back her donation to $100 and then helped her call friends and relatives to add to the cause. In the end, Devyn collected $446, making her the highest individual contributor in the school.
She also helped push her classroom's total donations to the finish line, edging out Rosie's older sister, Bella's fourth grade classroom.
JoAnne Colucci says both rooms will get a popcorn party for their efforts.
The racing-themed fundraiser is part of a national initiative started by the Children's Tumor Foundation, which has partnered with NASCAR drivers to raise money and awareness for NF.
On Jan. 30, the Children's Tumor Foundation Porche GT3 team will be racing in the 24 Hours At Daytona race at the Daytona International Speedway. As an NF Hero representing Illinois, Rosie's name will be on the car.
Leading up to the big race, Rosie and her family pledged to raise $20,000 for the campaign. They say 100 percent of the proceeds will help further new drug initiatives aimed at holding off more tumors and reducing the growth of existing ones.
With the help of Paddock students and their families, whose contributions added up to more than $5,000, the Colucci family has raised $16,945.82 as of last week, putting them at 85 percent of their goal.
To donate to their campaign and learn more about Rosie, visit active.com/donate/racing4research2010/RosiesRacing.