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Photos courtesy of the Skaats family
Photos courtesy of the Skaats family
Stevie Skaats

The Whitestone community continues to rally around a local family caring for an infant battling an uncommon illness.

Stevie Skaats, now 7 months old, was born on June 4 with a rare genetic disease. After 150 days in the hospital, Stevie was able to be brought home by happy parents, Ann and Steve.

But Stevie’s treatment didn’t end there, grandmother Maria Cotty shared with QNS. Care for the infant includes medical equipment to facilitate breathing and eating, 20-hour attention from registered nurses and daily visits from a team of physical and speech therapists.

Stevie and his parents have also been traveling back and forth from Canada, where the youngster is being evaluated and observed.

After hearing about Stevie’s journey, Luigi Forte, owner of local Italian restaurant Buona Forchetta, contacted the family and asked if he could assist by offering his space as a venue for a fundraiser. The family graciously accepted, Cotty said.

On Jan. 16, the eatery at 168-68 Ninth Ave. will host a night out for a good cause. Buona Forchetta will offer a four-course meal and live entertainment to guests for $100 per person, with 75 percent of the proceeds going to Stevie’s fund. Interested parties should RSVP to the restaurant at 718-767-2000.

The upcoming fundraiser is just one of the many ways the local community has offered a helping hand, Cotty said. Numerous residents have donated through a GoFundMe page set up for Stevie and his parents by the infant’s aunt. In total, over $20,000 has been collected through the site.

At Christmastime, Cotty took to the We Love Whitestone Facebook group to see if anyone had a Santa suit they could donate to bring some holiday cheer to the family’s newest member. The response was immediate.

The proud grandmother said Stevie just got his first tooth on New Years Eve, lights up when his parents put hockey on the television and has red hair.

“We have no idea how Stevie got red hair, but he’s got cute, cute red hair,” Cotty said, laughing. “He can give a smile every once in a while. He’s just too cute … And he’s doing well in spite of all of what he’s going through.”

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The family’s first holiday season with the youngster was a happy one, Cotty remembered. Stevie’s aunts, uncles and grandparents gathered to visit him in his Whitestone home. Cotty’s husband proudly dressed up as Santa for his new grandson.

“It was a very special holiday for us,” Cotty said.

Those interested in donating to the family or keeping up with Stevie’s progress can visit the GoFundMe page.

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