Cadillac Lounge Owners Stage Annual Diabetes Fundraiser in Son's Name

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Sam and Lia Grosso of Toronto live music venue Cadillac Lounge set up Francesco’s Fund in their son’s name after he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. An annual fundraiser — now in its seventh year — has brought in more than $30,000 for the diabetes clinic at SickKids Hospital. The next one is this Saturday, May 13, featuring jazz artist Tia Brazda, and the couple has upped their goal considerably to $20,000 and their circle and supporters have come through — they are halfway there.

“Funds are allocated solely for T1D families and are disseminated through the intake diagnosis process,” Lia Grosso sent to Samaritanmag via email. “Type 1 Diabetes supplies are exorbitantly expensive and thus Francesco's Fund provides support to families in financial need who are not receiving assistance or health coverage elsewhere.

“Whether it's because of loss of employment or little medical coverage, we have found that a small financial boost does much more for these families than just provide cash. We have repeatedly heard from members of the diabetes team and families themselves that to receive such assistance at a harrowing time like diagnosis gives them strength and hope. It lets them know there is a community who understands and supports them during this difficult time and allows them time to get it all together.”

Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes, is a disease in which the pancreas does not produce insulin, a hormone needed to help control the level of glucose in your blood to produce energy. There is no known cure and insulin therapy is required to manage the condition.

Francesco, the Grosso’s eldest child, was diagnosed at age 2.  After the support and treatment he received at SickKids, the Grossos decided to make “an annual effort to support the unique challenges faced by T1D families,” reads the bio on the event.

“Lia and Sam Grosso are proud of the leaps and bounds their son Francesco has made in his own T1D management, his independence and his particular and unique compassion towards the experiences of others.”

The fundraiser, which includes live music, a silent auction, raffle and food and drink, runs from 6-9pm at the Cadillac Lounge. Tickets are $40 in advance and $50 at the door with all proceeds going to the fund.  Charitable tax receipts will be issued through the SickKids donation page ($20 and over).

Sam Grosso, who sent out an email about the event and fundraising goal, added, “If you donate through SickKids and plan to attend, please leave a note of attendance with your donation and your name will be on the guest list. If you would prefer to pay in person by cheque, please make them payable to Francesco's Fund ℅ SickKids Foundation.”

Donations can also be made directly to the Francesco's Fund link at the SickKids Foundation website

“If you are unable to attend the event, I would ask you please donate,” he wrote. “All of the money raised goes directly to these families. Unbelievably, supplies for children with Type 1 Diabetes are not covered by OHIP including life-saving insulin (Type 1's require insulin injections multiple times a day), syringes and test strips. These supplies then must be paid out of pocket. Many families find the cost of supplies which range annually between $3000-$5000, out of reach. Whether it be because families are self-employed, contract, seasonal, temporary workers or otherwise, not all families have extended health benefits.

“Francesco's Fund fills a dangerous gap which assists in allowing newly diagnosed kids to get a fair start.”

 

 

Below are the “impact stories” he included about three children:

1.   Anthony is a 4 year old boy who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes approximately one year ago. He lives with his parents and two older siblings . His parents were initially devastated to learn that he had developed diabetes and expressed a lot of sadness and worry about their son’s current and future health. One of their main concerns revolved around how they were going to pay for the necessary diabetes supplies. Father works full time but does not have any insurance and though he was committed to coming to classes to learn how to look after Anthony, he was anxious about missing work because he was losing pay. He currently works in a low- income job and mother is at home with the children. They didn’t know how they were going to be able to leave the hospital with supplies in hand as they had no immediate way to pay for them. Also the family has no extended family in Toronto so parents must rely on each other for practical and emotional support.

We decided to provide these parents with financial support from the Diabetes Patient Amenities fund to help them with the initial cost of the insulin, test strips, needles and glucagon. They were then able to use the official prescription receipts from their purchase to apply toward their deductible for the Trillium Drug Program. This provided them with a lot of relief as they had one less thing to worry about (the unmanageable cost of their son’s diabetes needs)

Our providing them with funds also helped to increase their trust level of medical and nursing staff as they began to follow through with the recommendations to decrease Anthony’s milk intake as well as give him supplemental iron.

All in all these parents are grateful for the help and are very engaged with team members. Anthony is doing remarkably well with his diabetes and parents have adjusted to the day to reality of living with diabetes.

2.  Angela is a 3 year old girl who was diagnosed at the age of 2. She lives with her parents and 4 other siblings in subsidized housing. The parents are very loving and caring of Angela who was initially frightened and upset when she had to get her finger pokes and insulin injections. Parents remained calm on the surface but felt very sad and anxious that she had to go through this routine multiple times per day. Mother stays at home with all the kids and has excellent parenting skills but experienced and expressed her anxiety about how they were going to pay for all the necessary diabetes supplies. Some of this anxiety was felt by Angela which she expressed through crying and kicking. Father worried too as he had no insurance plan and as a taxi driver his income was not predictable.

When we provided the family with funds from the Diabetes Patient Amenities fund for the initial cost of supplies which would last for a couple of months, they felt very relieved. Parents didn’t have to worry about her not having access to insulin , they could use their prescription receipts toward their deductible in applying to the trillium drug program and thus could focus more on learning the diabetes management tasks and calming themselves down around injection times. The more calm they became the more Angela was able to cooperate without a big fuss. At this time both parents and Angela have adjusted well to the routines.

In part, we can attribute this to the financial support they received which lifted the stress and worry of having to figure out how they were going to meet their child’s health needs.

3.  Michael is an 11 year old boy whose had diabetes since the age of 4. He lives with his mother and younger sister in the home of the maternal grandparents. Mother has been home for a couple of years and has a lot on her plate. She is taking care of her own mother who is ill, caring for her daughter who has special needs and is the only parent managing Michael’s diabetes. Michael’s parents are separated and father is unable to provide support as he is not working. Mother has some insurance through the Trillium Drug Program but this program does not pay for the cost of the medicalert bracelet. Michael had a medicalert bracelet until about a year ago when he lost it. The school that Michael attends does not belong to the “No Child Without Program” and mother could not afford to get him a replacement. We offered to provide her with the funds from the Diabetes Patient Amenities Fund to purchase a medicalert bracelet for him. In doing so, she felt more secure knowing that his condition could be identified more quickly if he was ever in a situation where people might not know or remember that he has diabetes. Having him wear his medicalert helped to relieve some of her own anxiety and thus she is appreciative of the help offered by the Diabetes Fund. 

Samaritanmag.com is an online magazine covering the good deeds of individuals, charities and businesses.