On our journey through life we cross paths with people who change us. Some of these people we get to know, others just pass on by like a ship in the night.
This week’s hero is someone I met a couple of years ago, someone who has touched my life at the soul, someone whose example makes me appreciate and honor life more than before I met her. This week my Friday’s Hero is …. Donatella Botolino.
I met Donatella (Dona) through tragedy. Her beautiful 10 year old son, Denali, was fighting for his life with pancreatic cancer.
Dona came to my office one morning in need of a location to host a fundraiser for her son the following day. Circumstances had forced her to change venues for the event at the last-minute and I was lucky enough to be able to provide her a new location.
Through this event, Dona Botolino became my friend. Over the next few months, Denali’s condition grew worse but Dona, her husband Ricky and their three other children never stopped fighting for Denali.
All through Denali’s illness, Dona put everything else on hold. She lived in hospital rooms and waiting areas, she researched, she kept her other children’s lives as normal as possible and she fought with every ounce of her being to keep her Denali alive.
Dona created a Facebook page “Please Pray for Denali Botolino” where she painfully documented the struggles of her entire family. Some days the posts were too painful to read, other days they showed a glimmer of hope, but no matter the circumstance of the post, they touched my soul to the core.
The Facebook page grew first to 1000 then 2 and 5 and finally over 7,000 followers. Dona’s post were met with hundreds of comments, well wishes and most of all prayers.
This circle of compassion brought together people from all walks of life, from throughout the globe, for a common cause…. a little boy named Denali who was dealt an unimaginable cruel fate.
As Denali’s final days drew near, Dona’s posts were more painful than ever, until finally Denali was taken from her and entered the Kingdom of Heaven on June 11, 2012.
Through Denali’s cruel disease, Dona never once lost her dignity. She remained a mother who would walk through hell to protect her child and children. Dona walked those steps every day for 23 months.
After Denali’s passing, Dona began her search for a way to honor Denali and through this search “The Give,” was born.
In just a few short months since Denali passed, Dona, Ricky and the children have created and opened “The Give,” a place where the public can purchase quality merchandise at a discounted price, with portions of the proceeds going to benefit families battling pediatric cancers.
Through this battle Dona Botolino continues to give. Dona Botolino will tell you she is just a mother protecting her family. In my eyes she is a hero. I am proud to call Dona Botolino my friend, her example makes me a better person.
Donatella Botolino shines light through darkness and provides hope where there is none. Dona Botolino is a normal mother doing extraordinary things, with a beautiful angel sitting on her shoulder helping to guide the way.
Dona Botolino is my Friday’s Hero for October 26, 2012.
For more information, or to contribute to “The Give” check out their Facebook page here.