Community comes together to help Viera family with expenses, support
By Meagan McGone
On the outside, Enzo Grande is an average young boy. He loves playing with his Scooby Doo Mystery Machine model and sometimes wears mismatching "Toy Story" socks, sporting Woody on one foot and Buzz Lightyear on the other.
On the inside, he is fighting with all the might that a 3-year-old can muster.
In June, after a pale and unusually tired Enzo brought on an emergency trip to the hospital, Elaine and Vincenzo Grande suspected their son had anemia. Bloodwork proved otherwise, and when the doctors informed the Grandes that Enzo had cancer, Elaine said she fell to the floor.
"You never think your child is going to be the statistic," she said.
According to www.marrow.org, there are more than 4,000 new cases of Enzo's disease, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, in the United States each year. Also known as ALL, it is the most common form of cancer in children in which the bone marrow rapidly produces an excess of white blood cells.
Enzo's twin sister, Larissa, calls her brother's disease his "boo-boo."
"She doesn't know the magnitude of what he's facing," Elaine said. "But he does. He asks every day if he's going to the doctor. He used to have severe anxiety, but now he's starting to accept that this is part of his life."
As a result of Enzo's leukemia, Elaine said the family has adopted "a new normal," which includes regular trips to Orlando's Arnold Palmer Hospital for spinal taps, blood transfusions, a platelet transfusion and six different types of chemotherapy. She said the goal is for Enzo to enter remission, where he will undergo a maintenance period of about three years. During maintenance, Enzo will receive chemotherapy treatments with a diminished intensity. After chemotherapy, the survival rate for children fighting ALL is 80 percent, according to www.acutelymphoblasticleukemia.org.
In an effort to assist the Grandes with growing hospital bills, a close friend of the family, Janine Collette, came up with a way to raise funds for Enzo's medical expenses. By visiting www.giveforward.com/enzosfightagainstleukemia, anyone can donate to support Enzo's health until Feb. 9.
"I know the expenses for Enzo's treatments will continue to grow until he's 7 years old," Janine said. "My greatest hope is for Enzo to conquer his disease and for his parents to be able to rest their heads at night knowing at least they have a little help on the financial end."
The community has reached out to Enzo and the family, too. In January 2010, Vincenzo's job brought the Grandes to Brevard from New Jersey, leaving them with no extended relatives close by. Through new friends, the MOMS Club of Suntree/Viera, Candlelighters of Brevard and other area organizations, Elaine said she found aid to help her family's struggles and is thankful for "a community that is so supportive."
Enzo's full name, Vincenzo, is derived from the Italian verb "vincere," which means "to conquer." When it comes to beating his disease, those close to Enzo are confident that he will stay true to his name.
"He's a tough little man who gets literally knocked down from his treatments and then springs right back into the feisty little man that he is," Ms. Collette said. "He's telling the world he won't be held down."
On Saturday, Jan. 21, a Willow House home and jewelry party will be held at the Three Fountains of Viera Clubhouse at 6 p.m., with proceeds benefitting Enzo's treatment.
For more information about Enzo Grande or the event, contact Janine Collette by calling (908) 463-0036 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.