Sunday, October 21, 2007
Local volunteers inched closer to their goal of raising $250,000 for Adam Saada with a fundraiser on Sunday afternoon.
A picnic and silent auction at Gina’s Café in East Naples added to the $60,000 donated since Adam of Naples, now 6 months old, was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency in August, a condition that makes him extremely vulnerable to infectious diseases.
Although Adam received his mother’s bone marrow in September to help rebuild his immune system, doctors will not know for several months if the transplant was successful. The baby recently developed a rash as a result of the procedure, worrying the family.
“The doctors are controlling it. It’s not bad at the moment,” said his father, Hussam Saada, at Sunday’s event that dozens attended.
Costs are mounting, however, as Adam’s hospital stay lengthens. Medical bills are only part of the problem; Hussam’s wife, Amy, stays with the baby fulltime as he undergoes treatment at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, adding to the financial strain because they’re now a one-income family.
Hussam estimates the expenses total $500,000 to date.
Insurance, he says, “are covering a percentage, but the expenses are so high, even with the parts of the insurance it’s not enough.” Help from friends and strangers makes a big dent in what the family owes.
“You see how the community can be really supportive and help people out. When somebody has a hard time, they come help you out,” says Hussam.
The couple’s oldest son, Andrew, 6, is feeling the strain.
“Sometimes he misses the family,” says Hussam. “We’re not a like a family anymore.”
With Andrew staying with Amy’s parents, and Amy in Miami constantly, “the whole family’s been separated,” he adds.
Hussam joins his wife in Miami three to four times a week, often leaving right after work and returning late at night or early in the morning. He can’t afford to take a leave of absence from Wachovia Bank branch on Pine Ridge Road in Naples, where he works.
For the owners of Gina’s Café, 11000 Commercial Blvd., the story resonated deeply within their family.
Nico, the grandson of one owner and nephew of another, was born prematurely and weighed only 2 pounds, 3 ounces. His mother spent five months shuttling between Naples and Miami, where Nico was also treated at Jackson Memorial.
“My grandson was in the hospital for all those months, I know the stress on the family… so we decided to do something here for them,” said Dolores Constantino, Nico’s grandmother and co-owner of Gina’s. The restaurant donated some of the food and the location to the event.
“A lot of things people don’t realize is the hardship on a family when things like this happen,” says Sharon Ardrey, who organized the event.
Ardrey and her husband Barry are regulars at Gina’s, and friends of Adam’s family. Talking about it at the restaurant inspired the café’s owners and the Ardreys to set up the fundraiser. The money raised will go to Adam’s current and future medical bills.
“When this started, I just, I can’t believe… the heartache and what these guys are going through. Amy doesn’t want to leave the hospital,” says Adam’s great aunt, Sue Buck, who heads the fundraising team. The updates she receives every other day from Amy keep her motivated.
“I’m not going to stop until it’s done,” she says with conviction, adding that a shortage of volunteers to help bring in more money, however, slows down efforts.
Linda McKelvey, who attended Sunday’s event with her two children, summed up the feelings of family and friends attending Sunday’s event.
“It’s all for Adam.” To donate to Tax deductible donations can be sent to “COTA for Adam S.” at 2051 Cota Drive, Bloomington, Ind., 47403, or through http://cotaforadams.com. All proceeds will go to pay Adam’s medical expenses.
The next fundraiser will be a pasta dinner Dec. 7 at East Naples United Methodist Church.
Contact Victoria Macchi at Vmmacchi@gmail.com
© 2007 Bonita Daily News and The Banner. Published in Bonita Springs, Florida, USA by the E.W. Scripps Co.
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