Weekly Feature

2017-09-06 / Front Page

Family pays it forward to Women and Children’s Hospital through raffle


The Marchetta family’s affinity and appreciation for Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo is due to much more than the quality care it has received through the years.

If it hadn’t been for one of the hospital’s rheumatologists, Jack Marchetta might not have lived to see tomorrow.

At age 2 , Jack was becoming increasingly ill, to the total bemusement of his family. It wasn’t until a trip to Women and Children’s Hospital that the Marchettas were delivered news that would irrevocably alter their daily routine for the foreseeable future.

Colleen Marchetta, Jack’s mother, can recall in vivid detail the moment that a horde of doctors entered the room to deliver their diagnosis.

“I remember the rheumatologist coming in and five or six doctors coming in with him. One of them brought a box of tissues,” she said. “I guess it should have clicked then that they were about to tell me something.”

The doctors explained that Jack was suffering from juvenile myositis, a rare autoimmune disease. They told Colleen that the disease was debilitating and could be fatal, though they couldn’t give a prognosis until Jack began treatment.

JM is a life-threatening and incurable disease that affects just three in one million children each year. It causes the body’s own immune system to attack healthy cells and tissues, which can cause pain, weakness, inability to walk, disfigurement and even death. JM can affect virtually any system of the body including the heart, lungs, skin and muscles.

“We were told that it would be very similar to a cancer, because the treatment is long and difficult. It includes very similar medications,” said Colleen, noting that Jack has undergone both chemotherapy and steroid use as part of his treatment.

Since that day at the hospital, Jack, now 5 years old, has responded positively to a treatment regimen that includes shots and weekly infusions at the hospital.

The prospect of living half of one’s life under the bright lights of a hospital room would be daunting for most. The Marchetta family attributes Jack’s stable health to both his strength and the laudable efforts of Women and Children’s Hospital to make each visit a less laborious one.

The hospital, says Colleen, strives to go above and beyond for their young patients who are chronically ill. Spontaneous parties and visits from Buffalo Bills players, and an impromptu one from Buffalo Sabres mascot Sabertooth, lifted Jack’s spirits for the next day of treatment.

“It made us feel special … in a good way,” said Colleen. “It helps you to focus on the positives, and you kind of forget about the bad stuff.”

Now, the Marchetta family wants to pay it forward by organizing a raffle to benefit both the Oishei Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Cure JM Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on finding a cure for JM.

Initially, the raffle was going to consist of a series of baskets and silent auction items. When Colleen’s brother was browsing around in American Eagle Fireplace and Playsets, owner Tom Rosenecker asked about how Jack was doing. In 2015, Rosenecker partnered with Make-A-Wish to deliver Jack a custom-made playset. Upon hearing the news that the Marchetta family was planning the raffle, Rosenecker offered to help in a big way by donating a playground.

The raffle, which the Marchettas organized through the fundraising site CrowdRise, will offer one entry for each $25. A winner will be chosen at random by CrowdRise and announced on Saturday, Sept. 23. The winner will have the option of the playground or $2,300 to be used toward the purchase of any fireplace or playground at American Eagle Fireplace and Playsets.

All proceeds from the raffle will benefit the Oishei Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Cure JM Foundation.

For contest details and directions on how to enter, visit www.OisheiJM.com.

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