Niagara Gazette

August 23, 2013

Benefit for Ava helps 5-year-old Lewiston girl

Staff reports
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Family and friends of Ava Pannozzo, a Lewiston five-year-old who has a rare genetic dysfuncton of the immune system, are holding a fundraiser for her from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at Antonio's Banquet and Conference Center, 7708 Niagara Falls Blvd. 

Ava is suffering from Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis, and has been undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments since the beginning of May. She will soon receive a life-saving bone marrow transplant process which will require her to spend at least three months in the hospital in Cincinnati.

"Ava has responded to the chemotherapy very well and is feeling much better," said her father Christopher Pannozzo. "But (the treatment) is only a temporary solution and we have a long road ahead."

The family expects Ava and her mom, Ida, to be in Cincinnati for a minimum of six months in order to complete treatment. But, despite the seriousness of the illness, they are optimistic. 

Ava's doctors have indicated that preliminary searches reveal a number of potential donor matches for her," explained Ida. "We are hopefully going to be very lucky in that way."

The family's battle is a long and costly one. The benefit will help defray medical costs that the family will incur during the course of the treatment. But those who are putting on the fundraiser are determined to help the child, described by her aunt as "funny and lively."

"She's the kind of kid that when she walks into a room everyone pays attention to her," said her aunt, Elizabeth Colangelo of Niagara Falls. "She is so precious and such a blessing and a gift to our family," 

A donation of $25 will include food and beverages. Children under 16 are welcome at no charge. There will also be a basket raffle, silent auction with sports memorabilia, hotel packages, youth bicycles, and iPad and more. There will also be a 50/50 raffle. 

Those who would like more information can call Elizabeth Colangelo at 299-1095, Jackie or Anthony Pannozzo at 297-5310, Gina Pannozzo at 807-6798 or visit www.abenefitforava.com, where tickets are available for purchase. 

IF YOU GO • WHAT: Benefit for Ava Pannozzo • WHEN: Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday • WHERE: Antonio's Banquet and Conference Center, 7708 Niagara Falls Blvd. • FOR MORE INFO: Call Beth Colangelo at 299-1095 or Anthony Pannozzo at 297-5310 or Gina Pannozzo at 807-6798 or visit www.abenefitforava.com