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TIME OUT by Joe Flanagan

‘Little Fighter’ winning the battle

The summer has all but flown by again and the best time of year – football season! – is nearly at hand.
However, before we delve into gridiron thoughts and look ahead to all fall sports, I’d like to briefly revisit a story from this past year that touched many hearts in our area.
Last August, Brian Stewart alerted me to the tragic situation facing former Albion High School graduate Tim Matrisciano and his family and, through this column, I was able to make Albion News readers aware of their plight.
You will recall that Tim’s five-year old daughter Danielle had been diagnosed with AML Leukemia in July and faced a difficult and uncertain treatment process at Children’s Hospital in Omaha.
At the time, friends of Tim and his wife Teresa were organizing a benefit to help the family with the financial and spiritual support they would need in the months ahead and we tried to spread the word so area residents could chip in to the effort.
That event in Hampton was a rousing success and, along with funds from several additional functions, certainly relieved some of the financial burden for the Matrisciano family. I know many from the Albion community and others with past Cardinal ties were generously involved.
Even more importantly, the overwhelming support and countless prayers from the myriad of friends and family helped buoy the spirits of Danielle, Tim and Teresa when most needed.
The best part? One year later, six-year old Dani is in remission and going strong!
An adorable little girl proved to be a tenacious fighter – and for anyone who knows her Dad, that’s no surprise. Through six months of hospitalization and three phases of treatment, including debilitating chemotherapy, Dani persevered.
She was able to leave the hospital in January and in February returned home and had her Central Line removed. She was able to return to school and again begin enjoying many of the joys of a typical six-year old girl.
Dani made a video for the Omaha Red Cross to help bring  awareness to the importance of blood donations and was featured in an NTV report.
And, this past May, her fondest dream came true with a “Make a Wish” trip to Disney World!
Great news and certainly heartening. However, Dani still needs your thoughts and prayers.
Dani has moderate to severe scarring on her heart and will be taking medication for the rest of her life. She recently had to have her medications adjusted due to dehydration problems. There’s a long road yet ahead. This tiny six-year old will need to remain a “fighter”.
I have no doubt she will.
If you are familiar with Facebook, there is a group ‘Strength for Dani’ you can visit to find updates and see some wonderful photos of Dani. You can even join and leave messages for Dani and her family, again showing your care and support.
Most of all, you can keep Dani in your prayers. Tim, Teresa and their courageous little girl will attest to their power.

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