Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sheriff’s department makes dream come true


November 11, 2010 - By MARY ANN GREIER (mgreier@reviewonline.com)
LISBON - Meeting Buzz Lightyear, Spiderman and other characters topped the favorites list for 5-year-old Justin Nichols during a dream trip to Orlando - a trip courtesy of all the sweet tooths in the Columbiana County Courthouse.
Visitors to the Sheriff's Office in the basement may notice the candy container beckoning on the counter - what they may not realize is the power of the quarter they slip in the slot.
Since June 2004 when Sgt. Kenneth Biacco Jr. first started collecting donations for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, about $18,000 has been raised and three wishes have been granted, the latest for Justin.
The East Liverpool preschooler who attends classes at the East Liverpool Head Start suffers from an extremely rare condition known as Blue Rubber Bleb Nevus Syndrome, described in his Wish Child profile as "an illness in which venous malformations cause massive hemorrhages and iron deficiency anemia."
According to his mother, Tammy, people wouldn't know it to look at him, but the condition saps the strength out of him at times and can be very painful, requiring him to take very powerful adult pain medications. His dad, Paul, said there are only 150 cases in the U.S. and he's 151. He also noted many of the doctors they see haven't heard of it, so they're learning along with the family.
When asked what he wished for, Justin told Make-A-Wish personnel that he wanted to visit theme parks in Orlando, Fla. That wish came true in September when Justin, his parents and his grandmother, Jenny Triner, traveled first class to Florida and stayed at Give Kids The World Village, where Make-A-Wish children can stay with their families.
They visited the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Sea World, Universal Studios and Universal Hollywood and then enjoyed the activities at Give Kids The World where every night there was a different, themed party. A rabbit served as mayor of the village and tucked Justin into bed one night after spending some time with him. Justin also received gifts in his room every day.
Sheriff's Office personnel celebrated Justin's trip with a party for him Wednesday in their Courthouse office, where he received more presents, such as a Toy Story 3 DVD. The Fraternal Order of Police Quaker Lodge 88 Salem provided him with a $50 gift card to Walmart.
"I will never ever be able to pay forward enough for what these guys did," Tammy said, adding they went above and beyond, providing everything the family needed for the trip, even a limousine ride to the airport, first-class seats and a rental car on their arrival in Florida.
Tammy and Paul described the whole event as overwhelming, a blessing and very enjoyable. Justin said his favorite part was meeting characters, especially Buzz Lightyear and his favorite superhero, Spiderman. His parents couldn't find words to describe what the trip meant to them and to Justin.
"They have no idea what they do for a child's life," she said.
She tried to imagine how her son would react when he met the characters and said it was better than imagined - it was amazing.
"From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you," she said.
Biacco said seeing the results of their efforts is a good experience. When he started the program, he used to make juvenile offenders in his juvenile diversion program pay up as part of their punishment. The rule was that they had to raise the money themselves, either by working for someone or selling some personal property to raise the funds.
The department no longer has the juvenile diversion program, but the candy sales remain a source of income for Make-A-Wish. The Sheriff's Office also has a refrigerator stocked with donated pop and frozen treats to sell which Courthouse workers visit frequently, along with other visitors to the office. The treats are self-serve, with a container next to the refrigerator to collect the money.
Anyone wanting to donate to the efforts for a fourth wish can contact Biacco at 330-424-9519 or pony up at the counter in exchange for a sweet treat.
For information about Make-A-Wish, visit the web site at www.makeawishohio.org.

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

I love our Sheriff's Department! They are the BEST!