You can make dreams come true for Daniele
Updated: April 22, 2013 2:46AM
LA GRANGE — My dream growing up wasn’t to be a ballerina.
Indeed, my mean Great Aunt quashed that, when she declared, “Ballerinas are tiny little things, dear.”
It was to be a writer. Always, that’s what I wanted to do and be.
My daughter, all of 8 years old, tells me she wants to be an artist. My older sons want to be, respectively, a zoologist, business executive and engineer.
I’m ever so grateful that I was able to realize my dream and that my kids are, God willing, able to pursue theirs, even if and when those dreams ebb, flow and change.
It was with interest, then, that I noticed a flyer in a La Grange restaurant this past week. Dreams for Daniele, it read, amid a graphic of a cloud and an Impressionistic-looking rainbow.
I was captured as much by the headline as a photo of a darling little girl, with curls not unlike those on my own daughter’s head. This girl, Daniele, has a smile that looks on the cusp of a great big laugh and eyes that seem as if they could light up a room.
Daniele’s dream, as I discovered, is to walk, and keep walking.
The 6-year-old North Riverside resident was born with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. That is, in itself, a hardship that other children (including my own) don’t have to face as they conjure up their dreams.
But the hardship for Daniele and her parents compounded last year, in a most awful way.
“She was born at 25 weeks with cerebral palsy and had a twin sister who passed away four days after she was born,” explains Nikki Chlada, a cousin of Daniele’s mom, Dana. “In October, a week after her sixth birthday, she was diagnosed with liver cancer.”
A few weeks ago, Daniele had surgery to remove much of her liver and gallbladder. A week ago, she had another minor procedure to add a feeding tube.
Daniele’s parents, Dana and Tony, a Broadview police officer, are coping as best they can and are supporting their daughter’s dreams as they are at her side for her fight with cancer. They also have to contend with mounting medical expenses and Daniele’s increased needs in their home.
At 7 p.m. this Saturday, Feb. 23, family and friends of Daniele Santucci will be holding a special fundraiser at Bella Banquets, 5412 S. La Grange Road, Countryside. Tickets, sold for $30 a person, cover the cost of pasta, pizza and salad, and raffle tickets also will be sold. Donations of all kinds will be accepted that evening, says Chlada.
“We’ve sold a lot of tickets and many people are buying at the door, but we are hoping to get even more,” she says.
Although the event is past Daniele’s bedtime, her family will be at the fundraiser.
For information about the fundraiser, email email@example.com or call (708) 280-8466. A Facebook page has been set up as well; you can “like” Dreams for Daniele to learn more.
I certainly will be thinking about Daniele and her dream this week, enchanted by her charming photo and the achingly beautiful simplicity of her dream.
“She is the sweetest thing, with a beautiful smile,” agrees Chlada.