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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 25, 2009

Father and daughter stricken with Huntington’s
Help for Rodinos takes wing with illuminated butterflies

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — Most families face their share of hardships, but one local family is in the midst of dealing with more than a fair allotment. Friends of the Rodino family — parents Rick and Lori, and their children, Anthony, Gianna, and Rachel — are putting together a fund-raiser to help them pay medical bills; 7-year old Rachel, and her father, Rick, were both diagnosed with Huntington’s disease in the past year.

Huntingon’s disease, a genetic, degenerative brain disease, does not have a cure, or even an effective treatment. It diminishes a person’s ability to walk, think, talk, and reason, and is terminal. The disease usually begins in middle age, between the ages of 30 and 50, and is rare in children.

The Rodino family came to Guilderland in 2005, after a house fire in 2004 forced them to move. Jen Cornell, their neighbor, met the Rodino’s when they first moved into their new house. Mrs. Rodino’s mother died shortly afterward, and Cornell said Rachel would run around the family’s backyard, chasing butterflies, saying that they were sent to her from Grandma.

Six months later, Rachel began having seizures, and went through a long diagnostic period, before doctors concluded that she had Huntington’s disease. Since the disease is genetic, the family started paying attention to other relatives, and Mr. Rodino went to the doctor after suffering some alarming neurological symptoms. He, too, was diagnosed with the disease, and placed on disability.

As a fund-raiser, Cornell and friends are selling illuminated butterfly garden stakes. Cornell describes Rachel as a sweet, affectionate child, full of smiles.

“Anyone who knows Rachel, knows that she is a fighter,” said family friend JoAnne Fitzgerald. “When you see Rachel around town and you speak to her, her face lights up with a beautiful smile. People are not the only things that make Rachel smile. Rachel loves butterflies.”

The butterfly garden stakes, which are being sold for $30 each, or $50 for a pair, will be a good way to show the family community support, said Cornell. When Rachel and her family drive around town, they will see butterflies all over. Butterflies represent, for the Rodinos, sunshine, and happiness, and are an uplifting symbol, Cornell said.

 The proceeds from the sales will go to the Rodinos to help them cover medical expenses.

Anyone who wishes to purchase a butterfly, or donate, can make checks payable to The Rodino Family We Care Fund, and mail them to Christ the King Church, Attn: Jenn Cornell, at 20 Sumpter Ave., Albany, NY, 12203.

Phillip’s Hardware has set up an account so that Cornell can purchase supplies for the stakes at a discounted price.

 “This is just the beginning step for me, in terms of fund-raising for the family,” said Cornell. Eventually, she hopes to get small-business and corporate sponsorship to help raise money for the family that Cornell describes as “very loving.”

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