By Marc Raimondi
The Faller family got a surprise last month.
Carina Faller, whose husband, Joe, has been fighting brain cancer, got a call on her cell phone from Jason Zillo, the New York Yankees media relations director.
Within a few days, Joe and Carina, along with their three children — Alyssa, Joe Jr. and Anthony — were rubbing elbows with the likes of Mike Mussina and Derek Jeter in the Yankees dugout.
“It was amazing,” Carina Faller said. “It was just awesome. The kids had a great time. Joe did, too.”
Many have reached out with letters of support and donations since Joe Faller, a 43-year-old sanitation worker, was diagnosed with cancer in May.
A fund-raiser in July, hosted by the Sanitation Department football team, raised more than $8,000 and the Faller family is no longer in danger of losing their Floral Park home.
“Joe's been crying non-stop,” Carina Faller said. “It's unbelievable. People we don't even know have been sending us things.”
But all has not been well with Joe's condition.
After complications, including a shunt placed in his brain to stop spinal fluid from building in his tumor and a blood clot in his calf, Faller was removed from Duke University Medical Center's experimental treatment program.
He is currently undergoing standard chemotherapy and radiation and the family is in discussions with Mount Sinai in Manhattan for further treatments.
There will be a fund-raiser hosted by WhitePoint Sunday at MacNeil Park in College Point at 119th Street and 5th Avenue from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., which will continue at A.R. Tavern at 425 College Point Blvd. from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Faller is originally from College Point and worked out of the Sanitation Department's Queens East garage there.
All proceeds will go to the Team Joe Fund. Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 3724, New Hyde Park, NY 11040.
It has been a trying time for the Faller family — especially Alyssa, who is training with the Loyola College women's soccer team down in Maryland. She was the only PSAL Class B player in the city to earn a Division I scholarship this past year and led the Queens HS of Teaching to the 'B' city championship.
After months of having seizures, Joe Faller was found unconscious by his children May 19. A day later, doctors removed 95 percent of a brain tumor, but Faller was still ruled terminal.
“You really put into perspective,” Carina Faller said, “what's important in life.”
Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.