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Annual CMN radiothon is Wednesday to Friday

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Just in case you’ll need the support one day, Children’s Miracle Network of Northern New York at Samaritan Medical Center is here.

Elisa M. Cesario said she and her baby’s father, Jason J. Kowalczyk, both of Black River, are living proof of that, and so is their 6-month-old daughter, Lily M. Kowalczyk. That is why Ms. Cesario said she is sharing her story to promote CMN’s upcoming annual radiothon, which will be broadcast on The Border 106.7 FM and 94 Rock (94.1 FM) from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

There will be pre-recorded and live interviews with other local CMN families as well. Listeners, and those who will not have access to radio, will be encouraged to give at various funding levels by calling 755-5437 throughout the event.

What Ms. Cesario described as a smooth pregnancy turned into a nightmare that she greeted with disbelief, then acceptance, after she was told her baby was missing part of her left arm. Medical professionals don’t know why Lily was born with the deformity.

“Nobody has an answer,” Ms. Cesario said. “When it comes down to it, though, it doesn’t really matter.”

That realization, she said, came after several months of worry and countless trips to specialists in both Syracuse and Rochester. She said she heard of CMN before, but didn’t think she’d ever need its support. Then came mounting medical bills and travel expenses.

“We don’t like asking for help,” she said.

Ms. Cesario said she swallowed her pride and made the call to Morgan O’Brien Bocciolatt, CMN development manager.

“Morgan was wonderful; she is so sweet,” Ms. Cesario said. “We’re in the process of getting all the paperwork done.”

Miss Bocciolatt said the Cesario/Kowalczyk family’s scenario is just one example of how sick and injured children in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties can be helped by CMN. The public’s participation in the radiothon, Miss Bocciolatt said, will help many more families and area hospitals in need because all money raised will stay local.

“I really think it’s the power of stories shared,” she said. “Radio has a significant connection with listeners — you’re talking directly to them.”

Last year, the event raised $100,000. Miss Bocciolatt said she hopes this week’s event meets or exceeds that.

While Ms. Cesario and Mr. Kowalczyk await final CMN paperwork approval, they help raise money for the nonprofit. They collected $1 or more per vote when Lily was entered into the annual CMN Baby Photo Contest presented by Creative Imaging Fine Photography earlier this month. Educating people about CMN helped the family win and collect the contest’s grand prize of $2,000.

Ms. Cesario said she hopes sharing Lily’s story will help other families going through medical struggles with their child realize that CMN can be a resource for them too. Now that Lily is surpassing milestones, she said, Lily — and anyone — can overcome their disability.

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