PATERSON, NJ — When Richard Scillieri, chairman of the Realtors Care Day committee at the Passaic County Board of Realtors met 2½-year-old Carly and her parents, Aida and Carlos, he was touched by the courage of this tiny tot who has been through so much in her young life. Diagnosed in February with neuroblastoma, a rare cancer that forms in clusters in certain types of nerve tissues, seven tumors were found throughout Carly’s body. Her initial treatment at The Valerie Fund Children’s Center in Morristown Medical Center included chemotherapy, surgery, followed by more chemo and a bone marrow transplant. A second bone marrow transplant was done Aug. 30 at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where Carly is currently recovering. Radiation and immunotherapy are still in her future.
Carly and her family are receiving support from the Maplewood-based Valerie Fund, which was founded in 1976 by Sue and Ed Goldstein after their 9-year-old daughter died of cancer. Their vision was to bring the highest quality of care close to home to ease the burden on families who had to travel long distances to receive treatment like they did. Today, there are seven centers in the New York and Philadelphia metro areas treating 6000 children battling cancer or a blood disorder. For more information, visit www.thevaleirefund.org.
In the time leading up to New Jersey Realtors’ Realtors Care Day, Scillieri, a Realtor with a construction background, thought about Carly coming back to her freshly spruced up house and was motivated to accomplish everything on a “to do” list to fix up the house. Working with the family during the preliminary site inspection, he incorporated everyone’s ideas and priorities for home improvements. Originally from the Dominican Republic, the family, which also includes Carly’s two siblings, have been living in the house in Paterson since 2012.
Their wish list included: a general cleanup of the entire property; debris removal; planting a new front lawn and front bed with fall mums, perennial bushes and mulch; installation of pavers on the walkway from the driveway to the house’s side; painting front porch posts, railings and deck; and repairing and painting the brick foundation and front retaining wall.
Scillieri was touched by the warm reception he received during his first visit. Families coping with the stress and responsibilities of caring for a critically ill child often find great relief by having necessary home projects addressed. The Passaic County Board of Realtors, passionate supporters of Valerie Fund patients, championed Carly and her family and coordinated efforts to match the young cancer patient with a crew of Realtor volunteers. Fourteen other deserving homeowners throughout the state benefited from the sweat equity and skill sets of many professionals during Realtors Care Day 2018 on Sept. 26.