Hello everyone! My name is Greg Pellegrino and my wife, Mary, and I are parents to a really awesome seven-year old named Bennett! A little background on Bennett. He was born at 25 weeks and weighed in at 1lb 2 oz and 12 inches long at birth as Bennett was considered a micro preemie. Bennett was diagnosed with an intestinal perforation requiring immediate surgery. He was transported to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and for the next 7.5 months, we prayed at his bedside while Bennett fought to live. Multiple surgeries, interventions and thousand of prayers later, Bennett was discharged and ready to come home. Prior to his third birthday, Bennett was diagnosed with a hepatoblastoma, a rare form of liver cancer requiring surgery and chemotherapy. Bennett has fully recovered from his liver cancer and is considered in remission.
Bennett is currently a second grader with a number of medical issues. He has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder and an intellectual disability, all of which leaves him wheelchair-bound. He also uses a ‘G-Tube,’ a semi-permanent fixture that helps him eat. He is legally blind, experiencing what’s called cortical visual impairment, which means his eyes and his brain don’t communicate as well as yours or ours would. As you can see, Bennett has been through more in his young seven years than most others have in a lifetime. Our heart breaks to have watched him struggle and we do our best to give him everything he needs to live a happy and full life.
With that being said, we are at the point where Bennett is starting to get too big for his car seat and transporting him is difficult. (For example, when we need to travel somewhere with him, we have to put him in his car seat, then take his wheelchair apart into five different pieces and load them into the back of our car. When we arrive at our destination, we take up a lot of space in the parking lot taking out each piece of his chair and putting it back together, then checking it’s safe enough for Bennett to ride in). You can imagine how much space this takes up in our cars, making trips to the grocery store or to see family very challenging. We have looked into purchasing a wheelchair accessible van for him but we are unable to purchase one because they are expensive. With an accessible van, it would make life a lot safer for Bennett. We would be able to take Bennett out and about to his numerous doctor’s appointments and therapy sessions. Bennett would finally be able to join us on day trips and to see his grandparents without having to leave things he may need at home. We would be able to safely position him in the car in his wheelchair, avoiding the wear and tear of taking his chair apart. As he’s quickly outgrowing his car seat, this would make travel safer and more inclusive for our family. We know things have been crazy for everyone, especially the past seven months, but any donation amount would be a great help. A wheelchair accessible van would mean the world to our family, especially Bennett.
Bennett is a super social guy and loves being around people. He absolutely loves going to school, seeing his teacher and classmates, and listening to anything on ‘GoNoodle’. He loves listening to Sam Smith, going out in his swing, and is all about Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse. He enjoys eating mac n cheese, going to the zoo, and would spend every day in the swimming pool if he could!
Thank you for your consideration in helping us raise money for a wheelchair accessible van for Bennett! Donations made over our goal will be donated to our non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation, BennettStrong. (www.bennettstrong.org)