Shelton community comes together to help two families

PJ and Nicole Corbesato of Shelton with their daughters Ava and Bella, above, at a fund-raiser to help them and the Fortunato family, held Dec. 16 at Verace restaurant in downtown Shelton.

Sharyn Scully of Shelton helped organize the event to assist both families, who are facing medical issues with their children. The Corbesatos also lost their belongings in a recent fire.

“The turnout has exceeded expectations, with so many people coming in to support both families,” Scully said.

Scully is friends with the Fortunatos, who live in Milford and have babysat her two children. She reached out to the Corbesatos when she heard of their plight, but didn’t know them personally at the time.

“I have a child the same age as Ava,” Scully said of the youngest Corbesato daughter. “I saw the need to help them — when you lose everything and have to start over. It just broke my heart.”

Serious heart conditions

Both families are facing the major financial hardships that come with health ailments involving their children.

The Corbesato daughters are struggling with serious heart conditions. Bella, 2 years old, and Ava, 11 months old, were each born with only half of a heart.

To keep their conditions stable, both children will need to undergo serious surgeries by the time they are age 3. There also is the possibility the girls will require a heart transplant in the future.

The Corbesato also recently lost all of their belongings due to a fire that gutted their Shelton condominium.

Challenge of leukemia

The Fortunato family is dealing with the shock that their 11-year-old son’s cancer has returned. Grace and Anthony Fortunato’s son, Dylan, has been battling cancer since he was 6 years old.

Dylan is described as being compassionate and caring, and always looking to protect other sick children in the community. He was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2007.

“Despite what might ail him, [Dylan] is always the first one playing with the smaller heroes who look up to him,” said the benefit event organizers. “He is the one they seek comfort from.”

Dinner, candy buffet and auction

The event was hosted by Verace Pizzeria, Tavern & Italian Eatery on Center Street. It included dinner, silent auction, raffle prizes, live entertainment, family portraits, dessert bar, and a candy buffet supplied by Nikki's Candy Shop.

Learn more by logging onto Facebook under “Hope and Healing for the Corbesato and Fortunato Family Benefit.”