National Mobility Awareness Month Partners:

ToniAnn Accardi

Centereach, NY

Entry Photo for ToniAnn Accardi - Centereach, NY

I nominate my neighbor ToniAnn Accardi to win a wheelchair accessible vehicle. Her 2 little boys Nicholas who is 5 and Tyler who is 4 have a genetic disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy or most commonly known as SMA. SMA affects the part of the nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movements. It is caused by a loss of specialized nerve cells, called motor neurons, in the spinal cord and the part of the brain that is connected to the spinal cord. The loss of the neurons leads to the weakness of the muscles used for activities. In severe cases like my neighbors the muscles that are used for breathing and swallowing are affected.

There are many types of SMA and Nicholas and Tyler have type 2. Type 2 develops in children from 6 to 12 months and is the number 1 leading killer of infants. They have physical therapy sessions 5 days a week and have nurses in their home every day. They both require respiratory therapies 2 to 3 times a day. The youngest one Tyler sleeps with a bi-pap machine which helps him breathe better at night. They also do vest therapy every day or what they call it “shake shake” which is actually what it does to them. It keeps the secretions in their bodies loose since they can’t cough on their own. I see these boys almost every day and can I tell you they are the happiest little boys I have ever seen. All they do is smile and laugh and zoom around in their little power chairs. These power chairs are how the boys get around independently. My daughter Mary plays video games with them and we always can see the difference between them. Nicholas being older is much stronger, but Tyler can barely move his little arms and hands and gets tired easily. It scares me because they are so fragile and the common cold could kill them. Tyler has been in the hospital more times than I can count and a couple times it’s been so bad that they thought they were going to lose him. They are the strongest little boys I know and I love them like family. I don’t know anyone that deserves to win this van more than them.

Please vote for ToniAnn Accardi.

Thank you Pam McLaughlin