Stronger every day
The month of May will be an especially trying time for the Loschiavo family of West Seneca, whose lives have been turned upside down since last year.
(See editorial on page four)
May 12 will mark the one-year anniversary of Alyssa Loschiavo’s accident; the 15-year-old girl remains in a semiconscious state after being struck by a van last year on Union Road. She endured severe brain trauma.
Alyssa was treated at Erie County Medical Center, where she underwent 10 surgeries and fought off a handful of life-threatening infections. She remained at ECMC for several months until the family was allowed to bring her home on March 3.
Having their little girl — the second youngest of five children — back in the house is a miracle for parents Don and Kym Loschiavo, of Indian Church Road. They realize, however, that her road to recovery will be a long one and that there are many new challenges to overcome.
The medical bills continue to accrue and have been an enormous burden for the family. Only until recently did the mother return to work — the father is still on leave — having devoted 100 percent of their time to being with Alyssa, both in the hospital and now at home.
“There’s been a lot of good people helping us, but I wish I was the one in control,” Kym Loschiavo said Tuesday inside her home. She looked adoringly at her teenage daughter, a cheerleader, who is now confined to a hospital bed in their living room. Pink and green — Alyssa’s favorite colors — are prevalent throughout the house.
Alyssa now requires therapy and in-home care, for which she’s on Medicaid, and takes at least 12 different medications. Insurance will cover only one weekly transport for her therapy, but the teen requires more. And according to the parents, there’s only one doctor in the area who specializes in children’s rehabilitation.
“If this situation happened to someone you know, they would have to leave this area for pediatric rehab,” Don Loschiavo said. “The University at Buffalo dismissed [the doctor’s] rehab program, and no rehab doctors are being trained.”
The parents said they’ve used all of their savings to pay off bills, in addition to the everyday cost of living. Several fundraising benefits held on their behalf have allowed the family to make ends meet. But the family now seeks the funding for a wheelchair-accessible van so they can drive Alyssa to therapy themselves.
“Being in a needy position and being unable to solve our own problems is a very hard place for us to be in,” the parents wrote in a letter that was uploaded to the Pray for Alyssa website.
Since the accident, the family has lived a fairly public life on the Internet, mostly as a way to keep the community updated on the teen’s progress. A Facebook page dedicated to Alyssa’s recovery updates garnered the “likes” of nearly 11,000 individuals who united in support of the teen.
Thousands have sent emails and handwritten letters or cards to the family, too; some were from other countries as far away as Germany and Norway, and such states as California and Texas. Many don’t even know the Loschiavo family but have been inspired by Alyssa’s story.
Today, the family is relying on another website in hopes of having a prayer answered.
The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association is using the month of May — designated as National Mobility Awareness Month — to give away three customized vehicles with wheelchair accessibility. The site is asking for “local heroes” with mobility issues to submit their story online. The winners will be determined by the number of votes they receive from the public.
Alyssa’s face appears in that list of heroes, and currently has more than 15,000 votes.
Votes can be cast daily at www.nmeda.com. The family asks that voters use codes 854, 777 or 745, which adds an extra five votes to Alyssa’s total.
“I don’t believe that anything’s impossible,” the mother said, alluding to both the online contest and Alyssa’s recovery. “We have breakdowns every day, but if you don’t believe in something, you have nothing.”
“I believe there is a reason for all of this,” she added. “I have to.”
The family is hosting a benefit, “A Gift for a Lifetime,” from 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday, July 22, at the Lake Erie Italian Club, 3200 South Park Avenue, Lackawanna.
The family is currently seeking theme baskets, items for a Chinese auction and other donations for the event. All proceeds will go to the family toward Alyssa’s lifetime of needs, they said.
Gift certificates, gift cards or other donations can be mailed to the family at: Friends of Alyssa, P.O. Box 182, West Seneca, NY 14224.