2017 Stroll for Strong Kids

Ben, Ari, and Leila donating to STRONG! If they can do it, so can you!
Ben, Ari, and Leila donating to STRONG! If they can do it, so can you!

Growing STRONG

Dear Family and Friends,

Welcome to the Growing STRONG team page! The Stewart and Tortarella Families are very excited to join forces in our mission to giving back to the amazing place that is responsible for saving our babies! We hope you will consider joining our team or making a donation in honor of our Brave Warrior - Arianna Marie and our Strong Baby - Benjamin William! Although these two have a different story to tell, they share a common theme...with the miraculous work of the doctors and nurses at the Golisano Children's Hospital and the unbelievable support of family and friends they are Growing STRONG!  

Our story begins with Ben...On March 26, 2013, Benjamin William made his debut into this crazy world 10 weeks early weighing in at only 2 pounds, 1 ounce (970 grams!). From the moment he was born, Ben was determined to let us know that he was a fighter with his quiet yet strong cry (a sound we weren't expecting to even hear!). Ben was instantly transported to the NICU where he was treated over time for a multitude of issues associated with being a micropreemie. For 49 days the amazing doctors, nurses, and staff at the Golisano Children's Hospital NICU cared for our little boy in a way we never could but gave us the constant support and encouragement we needed to be a family! Ben is now 4 year olds, full of life, and continues to amaze us everyday. Since his tumultuous days in the NICU, Golisano Children's Hospital continues to be a part of our lives. Whether it is following up with developmental pediatricians, participating in research studies, or having outpatient procedures to have tubes put in Ben's little ears...the care and grace for which our family is treated is truly remarkable. We will be FOREVER grateful to the Golisano Children's Hospital and all of our family and friends that continue to support us. As much as our experience has changed us for the better, and there were days that we would have preferred to stay in our safe pod in the NICU (as the staff truly become family and understand you better than anyone in those days), we would never wish the roller coaster of emotions of having a child in the hospital on anyone...then just two years later we learn that Ben's friend Leila is a big sister to a stunning baby girl and the power of Golisano Children's Hospital continues...

Arianna has shown us the power of love and prayer.  She is the definition of courage and has shown our family the beauty of simplicity.  Arianna entered the world on July 6th 2015, as a warrior. Arianna was one of the first patients in the newly built NICU of the Golisano Children’s Hospital.  There she conquered complications with blood sugars and a heart murmur miraculously.  However, the biggest battle was yet to come. At six months old Arianna was diagnosed with Hepatoblastoma (Liver Cancer).  In her perfect little body was a tumor in her liver about 2 ½ in in circumference, which is more than half her liver. Arianna’s courageous eyes and innocent smile is the only thing that kept us focused when we received the news.  The only cure for Hepatoblastoma is surgery.  We quickly learned after an MRI that the tumor was too big and next to a major artery.  Therefore, surgery was out of the question until the tumor shrank.  Arianna’s first surgery was getting a Broviac.  A Broviac is a semi- permanent IV used to access Arianna for blood work, chemo, or fluids. Arianna went through a total of 6 rounds of 4 different Chemo’s throughout her entire battle.  After her second round of chemo, the surgeon said the tumor shrank by over 50% and he was able to take out the mass.  Arianna had one of the most riskiest surgeries.  However, Arianna, Dr. Korones, and Dr. Pegoli put everyone at ease with their calm and confident demeanor.  Arianna finished her other four rounds of Chemo.  She kicked cancers butt and enthusiastically rang the bell on July 26, 2017 (exactly 6 months after being diagnosed).  Since Arianna’s diagnosis, Golisano Children’s Hospital became a second home to our family. The hospital is a place that we shed many tears, but we have many celebrations as well (birthdays, Mother’s Day, bell ringing ceremony and even Arianna’s first steps). The nurses, doctors, Enviornmental Service Personnel, Child Life Specialist, receptionist, Ronald McDonald Crew, social workers, and Cure all played a huge part in healing Arianna and our entire family.   We will always have a special place in our hearts for Golisano Children’s Hospital.  We are forever grateful.  I truly believe that not only does it take a village to raise a child, but to cure a child as well.  Arianna continues to be the warrior that she is because of the friends, family and people that have helped make Golisano Children’s Hospital the gem that it is today.   

Ari and Ben are just two stories...the Stewart's and Tortarella's are just two families...that have been forever changed by the Golisano Children's Hospital. There are countless families in our community and beyond that have a story to tell that connects them to this amazing children's hospital in our backyard. Join our team, donate, and share your story!  

*All contributions will benefit Golisano Children's Hospital. Any contribution will help, and all donations are tax deductible. Donating online is safe and easy! To make an online donation please search for one of the participants and then click the "Support This Participant" button on their page. Donations can only be made to individuals, but the total each participant raises goes toward our team goal.Thank you for visiting our fundraising page!*




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