A Sanfilippo Story by Grammy
On January 6, 2021, Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 32, the larger bill that Senate Bill 275 was added to, recognizing November 16 as Sanfilippo Awareness Day in Ohio forever.
In October 2019, Oliver’s Sanfilippo Syndrome diagnosis was confirmed. Our hearts stopped beating.
“Sanfilippo is a terminal, neurodegenerative disease that causes children to lose all the skills they’ve gained, suffer seizures and movement disorders, experience pain and suffering, and then die. Simply put, it is like Alzheimer’s in children.” (Glenn O’Neill… Dad, Donor, and President of Cure Sanfilippo Foundation)
How could this be the fateful future for our love-love boy… a single gene defect? Genetics can be cruel. Oliver’s little body lacks one necessary enzyme… one! But this missing enzyme creates
a toxic buildup in every one of his cells. This toxic storage is especially harmful to his brain. Currently there is no FDA-approved treatment or cure for Sanfilippo Syndrome.
Our family cried, hugged, cried, mourned, cried, grieved, cried, collapsed, cried, reached out, cried, found support, cried, picked ourselves up, dried those tears and turned them into more controllable sniffles… and went into action mode sharing Oliver’s Tomorrow and spreading an awareness of Sanfilippo Syndrome.
At this time Oliver attended Christ Lutheran Children’s Center Preschool where the staff, teachers, and administrators sponsored a Sanfilippo Awareness Day on November 16th. The school called all the parents in Oliver’s class and purchased purple Sanfilippo shirts for all the children to wear. It just happened that Dave Salisbury, who works in government relations, had a daughter who attended preschool at Christ Lutheran. (I know what you’re thinking!) And yes, Dave got the ball rolling to expand the arena of Sanfilippo awareness from the community to the state of Ohio.
And this is where Frank Strigari came into the picture…
Frank and Brian attended high school together in Cincinnati and was in Jen and Brian’s wedding. (And now you get the bigger picture…)
Oliver’s diagnosis inspired Dave Salisbury and Frank Strigari to leverage their professional expertise to get November 16th officially recognized as Sanfilippo Awareness Day in Ohio. State Senator Stephanie Kunze agreed to sponsor the original bill, Senate Bill 275, having learned about Sanfilippo Syndrome a few years before at a local constituent’s lemonade stand fundraiser for Cure Sanfilippo Foundation. The cause touched her heart then and now she was inspired to follow her heart.
Glenn O’Neill, Dad, Donor, and President of Cure Sanfilippo Foundation participated, via Zoom, in the virtual bill-signing ceremony, along with Jen and Brian.
”This bill is a great reminder of the power in every single action, every effort to spread awareness… Thank you to Dave, Frank, and Sen. Kunze for all the work you did to make this bill a reality… And to each and every one of you who keep spreading awareness about this terrible disease. Every action, every moment makes a difference. And it means the world to all of our families.” — Glenn O’Neill
Ditto that from Grammy L…
A few days later, Jen and Brian received a handwritten note in the mail from Governor DeWine.