All About Oliver (and his family)

A Sanfilippo Story by Grammy L

We ring in another new year filled with cautious hope that we can reunite with our families soonish.

That’s right, Oliver… 2020 was a booger of a year!

2021

My New Year’s Resolution is to fly out to Ohio ASAP!

Meanwhile, here’s what’s been happening yesterday, today, and tomorrow with Oliver…


On January 6th, Governor DeWine signed a bill designating November 16th
as Sanfilippo Awareness Day in Ohio

Jen updates the profile picture for Oliver’s Tomorrow on Facebook.

“Every day given is reason enough for joy.” …Oliver’s Mom

Sundays at Magaw’s… (Jen’s Mom)

And Valentines (courtesy of Magaw) sent to me in California from Reagan and Oliver…

And here’s a shiny reflection from all the colorful stickers on the ceiling in the RV:


Speaking about Valentines Day…


Oliver’s Kindergarten school picture…


And finally, my longed for wish comes true! On March 16th I land in Columbus, Ohio and see and hug and play with my love-loves in person!


Jeff and I had received our first dose of the Moderna vaccine and I made an appointment for a rapid COVID test immediately upon landing in Hilliard, Ohio… I flew Southwest from Palm Springs to Phoenix to Columbus…

So good to be “home” with my family!!!

A New Year Dawns in the Desert

Welcome 2021!

On January 1st, Jeff and I take a drive to Dos Palmas Preserve, another CNLM habitat managed by our boss, Ginny Short…


Unfortunately, we never made it into the Preserve because the hike in was about a mile from the parking area and Jeff’s knee was not up to walking this far…

Fortunately, I captured this great picture…

Salton Sea

January Sunrises…

And Sunsets…


Jeff’s Pandemic Haircut… with his beard trimmer!

Not too bad…
Well, maybe not too good…
Oh my…
Yikes!

Snow-Covered Mountains…

All About Oliver

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.

Woohoo Jen and Brian! This bill happened because of you.
You have so bravely been sharing the story of Oliver’s tomorrow.
And people have listened and responded in amazing ways!

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…

Ohio Senate Chief Legal Counsel

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.

State Senator Stephanie Kunze (R-Upper Arlington)

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.