Whitestone community rallies to help family of ill baby

Whitestone community rallies to help family of ill baby
Photo Courtesy of GoFund Me
By Gina Martinez

The Whitestone community has pulled together to help the family of a sick newborn.

Five-month-old Stevie Skaats was born with a rare, debilitating genetic disease that has forced him to spend the last 150 days in the hospital. Parents Ann and Steve, life-long Whitestone residents, were able to bring Stevie home but according to Stevie’s grandmother Maria, the family is now preparing for another trip to the hospital in the upcoming weeks.

A GoFundMe page started in November by Ann’s sister, April Leavy, has already raised $15,000. On the fund-raising page Leavy wrote that the family is thrilled to have Stevie home again but expenses are piling up.

“Along with Stevie came a host of medical equipment for breathing and eating as well as the requirement for in-home care by a registered nurse for 20 hours per day,” she wrote. “Ann had to stop working to keep up with Stevie’s care and coordination of an upcoming medical stay in Canada.”

Leavy asked that family and friends to pitch in to help relieve the family’s financial strain.

“No one will judge how much, how little or even if you are able to donate,” she said on the page. “Donations can even be anonymous if preferred. Everyone has their own issues. I was hoping together we can make Ann, Steve, and Stevie’s a little easier.”

The fund-raising gained traction after Alfred Centola, vice president of the We Love Whitestone civic group, was contacted by Stevie’s grandmother, a former member of the civic association, who asked if he could spread the word.

“We figured we could help by posting their story on the association’s Facebook page and emailing it to people in order to get the word out, especially around the holidays,” Centona said. “So far the response has been good. We’ve gotten a lot of messages and calls.”

Centona said the outpouring of support is not surprising, he added, and said some people have even offered to help the family directly since GoFund Me takes a percentage.

“The Whitestone community as always steps up in these situations,” he said. “The family has been grateful and appreciative and has promised to keep us updated on the progress.”

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.