On the evening of August 31, 1939, six-year-old Virginia Wade of Westfield, felt sick and went upstairs to her bedroom while the family ate dinner. Coloring in bed, she reached for a crayon -- and her hand went into spasm.
On Halloween of 2013, Khalil Pereira of North Plainfield was on his way home for the weekend from college. The 18-year-old freshman was studying nursing. As his friend drove down the New Jersey Parkway, Khalil dozed in the back seat. He never saw the car coming at them, never felt the collision. Their car flipped 15 times before coming to rest. Khalil suffered a severe traumatic brain injury.
Kristina Baccigalupi saw her daughter’s face for the first time when Dominique was a little over one month old. That was the day Dom received a trach. Until then, her tiny face had been covered with feeding and ventilation tubes, and tape to secure the tubes.
In 1992, a newspaper story about Children’ s Specialized Hospital, with a call for volunteers, caught Nick Paolo’ s eye – and heart. The Fanwood resident, a retired accountant, had always enjoyed helping kids. Within days, Nick began a 24-year relationship with Children’ s at Mountainside, as a steadfast volunteer and donor.
Five-year-old Lauren Choi awakened to find herself in a hospital bed surrounded by her dad, aunts, uncles, brothers and her mom, who was “bawling her eyes out.” The young resident of Flemington couldn’t move. “I couldn’t hug my mom – my brain was freaking out,” Lauren recalls. Through sobs, her mother explained that Lauren had been in a car accident, and that she would need to work very hard to get back to where she had been before.
Born prematurely at 24 weeks, Owen Benoit weighed 1.5 lbs. at birth. The tiny baby’s greatest challenge was his severely underdeveloped lungs. Their immaturity caused Owen to develop chronic lung disease and pulmonary hypertension, which kept him on a ventilator.
Ali Stroker, the first-ever actor to perform on Broadway in a wheelchair, remembers playing with a pink teacup set at Children’s Specialized Hospital. It was a bright spot for the little girl, who had a long and difficult road ahead of her.
“I keep on going for it.” That could be the mantra of Ryan Wallace’s life...In 1985, five-year-old Ryan was severely injured by a hit-and-run driver. His skull fractured, the child lay in a coma for two weeks at a Newark hospital.