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This fundraiser ended on 06/19/12

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Become a "Tony's Helper" for 6yr old, Tony Forte by helping him become a " REAL BOY" as he & his family awaits for a MAJOR TRANSPLANT!

Imagine being parents and a Doctor that will eventually become a vital member of your family comes to tell you something is wrong, "We will need to take the baby to surgery!" How would you REACT and How would RESPOND ?

With the birth of third son,Tony Forte, those words rang true. After trying to convince doctors where he was born that something was wrong with Tony, he was discharged from the hospital never passing his first stool! As the days past and after having 2 healthy children previously, everyone knows babies eat,sleep,pee and poo.

After seeing specialists trying to have them see that something was wrong! We finally became frustrated and demanded that he be seen by a Pediatric Hospital in the hopes they could figure out what the problem was.

Tony was taken by ambulance at 6 days old to the Penn State Children's Hospital in Hershey ,Pa where the words parents don't want to hear,was heard LOUD and CLEAR. " We need to take him to surgery". Within an hour of our arrival, he was in the OR,only a 6 day old infant in surgery for 7 long,pain-staking,anxious hours.

As you can begin to imagine we were overcome with many emotions,but knew that whatever the Doctors comeback with, we knew we would have answers,even if it wasn't what we wanted to hear.

His Pediatric Surgeon was Dr.Robert E.Cilley who is the chief of Pediatric Surgery and the man who saved Tony's life! The news was hard to digest that he suffers with Total Colonic Hirschsprung's Disease. Our response was a glazed look with the question "What ?" "" What is Hirschsprung's?"

Our new life that we had dreamed of, with the new addition of our third son was crushed. He was a very sick little infant, fighting in the NICU for his life.

As the days went on, Stephen took care of our older children Vincent who was then 4 and Dominic who was then 2. I, after having my third C-Section remained at the hospital with Tony for a period of 3mos. Never leaving Tony's side,learning all aspects of his care and having my heart-ache to be reunited with my boys back at home and to just have our family complete.

However the next 5 years was not that easy- Tony is still a very critical and sick little boy, who will now face a bigger surgery than his first ! Tony is currently awaiting a stomach, full intestinal transplant and now liver transplant, because of damage it is causing by his IV Nutrition called TPN. Tony, was born with a devasating intestinal disease known as Total Colonic Hirschprung’s Disease. This disease has damaged his own organs requiring at the age of 2, the removal of his colon and 1/3 of his small intestine, leaving Tony with only 4 feet of small intestine that it too is not healthy enough to sustain his health.

When you meet Tony for the first time,you will always see him wearing a backpack,you'll think to yourself he looks like he's on his way to school. Until you hear his story that he has not had the ability to step inside a school room, instead the backpack is his life pack,carrying his IV Nutrition 18hrs a day, 2250ml of fluid,7days a week.With only a 6hr break of freedom every single day. Without the home IV pump and backpack,Tony would have to live in a Children's Hospital tethered to an IV Pole and hospital bed. He has an ostomy bag for elimination of his waste.Tony is always at constant risk for infection due to his intravenous line. Tony is also at high risk for dehydration and electrolyte imbalances due to his intravenous feedings and malfunctioning of the small amount of intestinal tract that he is currently left with. Tony has been just recently again upgraded from a high status II to a very high status I on the pediatric organ transplant waiting list due to the damage of his liver from the long term intravenous feedings with risk of infection, and loss of venous access.

Tony’s transplant will take place at University of Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital, which is 4 hours away from our family home. Our family which includes myself and mother,Monica, husband and father Stephen and Tony's two older siblings Vinny (11) and Dominic (9) will be required to remain in Pittsburgh for three to nine months until cleared by physicians to return to our home back in Lancaster. Our family is from Manheim Township Lancaster County, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The reason behind the fundraising is because the current State of PA's Medicaid Fund and any health insurance plan will NOT cover the uninsured medical related expenses associated with transplant,such as our need to relocate in Pittsburgh for Tony's recuperation which can vary from 6-12 months depending solely on Tony's health.

Meals,lodging,travel,any medications that won't be covered and the daily living expenses such as the mortgage back at our family home in Lancaster.and not being able to hold employment, is what the uninsured medical expenses are that NO Insurance Company including Medical Assistance won't cover.

Our Special Needs Trust Lawyer indicated a Cost of Living Analysis estimated for a scenario of 5mos to be at $45,000.00. It does not take into consideration any unforeseen medical issues such as re-listment of Tony should organs fail,or other issues that may arise. We were told by our team of Dr's in Pittsburgh that we should raise $1-2 million dollars to cover costs associated with transplant.

This relocation will be a financial burden for our family..Thanks to our great community,area businesses and extended family we have been for almost year been organizing, and demonstrating our commitment in seeing Tony thru his journey,with great fundraisers~however we still need your HELP! Vincent (11) has been at the fore front of these events and has created the most beautiful tribute to honor his little brother and the community of which we live in. He along with Dominic (9) recently were honored by Walt Disney World and along with us were named Honorary Citizens & Grand Marshal's in the Magic Kingdom Parade for their selfless acts of compassion in raIsing funds on Tony's behalf. The website is at www.aftft.com. They also created a facebook page" Tony's Helpers".


We have many fundraisers in the works,but have been worried about how we will go about maintaining the fundraisers should we receive the call,which can come at anytime.

By your compassion and willingness to help Tony, Tony will be able to experience a quality of life that every child should be able to have. After this transplant and recuperation , Tony will be able to attend school, have his own friends, be able to eat normal food without any restrictions that might cause to get sick, go to birthday parties,sleep overs without the fear of germs. He'llbe able to bathe and swim without the fear of getting his dressing wet and most importantly of all , to be able to feel what it is too truly be " A KID" .

Tony shares a bond with a fictional character that is overlooked by many because of the moral of his story, that bond is with "Pinocchio" ! To many,Pinocchio's moral is to always tell the truth and to let your conscience be your guide.Yet to children like Tony- there is another, altogether different meaning that unless you have to wear a backpack and tethered to strings to keep you alive, you really would never have that connection or thought of it that way.

After watching the movie when Tony was about 3,he noticed that Pinocchio also had strings just like him that kept him from becoming a "real-boy" , the difference was in Pinocchio, he had to prove truth to be free of his strings. With Tony's strings,its' due to medical reasons that keep him alive and keeps him restricted from that of what most boys do at Tony's age. For Tony it will take another child to give Tony life to become a "real-boy" and free of his strings.

Tony had the opportunity too meet Pinocchio on his Make-A-Wish trip,and right-away the tears came from everyone waiting to have their pic taken with Pinocchio, when they heard Tony's story and why of all the character's Pinocchio was special to our family. As Tony was talking, Pinocchio noticed Tony's strings coming from the backpack that Tony carries with him, in Tony's autograph book-Pinocchio wrote " To Tony one day soon you too will be a " real boy" just like me!" Love Pinocchio.

To follow our family thru his journey.You can visit his website at www.aftft.com or to contact us personally.Please feel free to call us at : 717 560-3610 ,email at : mforte2131@verizon.net

We strongly accept and welcome words of encouragement, strength, thoughts and above all PRAYER!!!

We are forever grateful for your willingness to give for his chance to LIVE!
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