Auction helps defray medical bills

MONTROSE — As Natalia LoCicero distributed items Monday to winners who bought them at a weekend silent auction, she broke into tears.

She's had a few days to decompress from a Saturday fundraiser for her 4-year-old son Reece. But the idea that more than 150 people would gather and raise more than $6,000 so she could pay down her son's medical bills was an act she said was hard to describe.

"This was the start of something wonderful," she said. "I'm relieved, I'm still — the whole family is still really overwhelmed."

Reece, who turns 5 next month, suffers from a series of symptoms that have baffled specialists. His condition, which doctors say is not contagious, has confounded doctors who struggle to diagnose his ailments. Symptoms include asthma, skin sores, and other conditions and symptoms.

Saturday's fundraiser, held at the Wine Cave on Honolulu Avenue, was to boost Reece's Medical Fund, an account that exists to pay off the LoCicero family's nagging medical debt. Reece's family members moved out of their Montrose home and in with his great-grandmother to cut costs, and borrowed $20,000 earlier this year.

"I'll be able to pay off that big $5,000 bill, I finally get to get rid of that sucker," Natalia LoCicero said. "But we still have a long way to go."

But not immediately, she said. The family is working with a donor who might match the money raised.

"We're not doing anything with the funds this week," she said. "We want to make sure we're doing everything correctly."

Glendale Kiwanis donated gift baskets, and representatives from the youth soccer organization, AYSO Region 88, distributed fliers across the community.

The owner of IOTEC, an office technology company with offices in Glendale, donated $2,000, LoCicero said. The general manager of La Cañada Flintridge Country Club donated two rounds of golf at that club, as well as a third round at a club in Lake Arrowhead.

Natalia LoCicero began soliciting donations alone, going door-to-door at times, said Deb Parker, a family friend. Ultimately, word got out and the stars aligned, she said.

"I almost felt like I was living in a small town in the 1950s, just because everybody came out and supported these people and bid on the auction items and it couldn't have been better," Parker said. "It was nice to see businesses and people and everyone just come together."

The Glendale Police Department monitored the party, which at times spilled out of the Wine Cave and onto the sidewalk along Honolulu Avenue.

"People were coming in, people we didn't even know, they all showed up, it was amazing," she said. "Now that people have been able to meet Reece and see what he's about and how wonderful our family is, I hope they'll come out with other fundraisers and…we can get back to our normal lives that we're used to."

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