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Variety fundraising telethon will feature 6-year-old from Youngstown

Gregory Allen Quarantillo Jr. likes fire trucks and the Sabres. He does well in kindergarten.

And, this weekend, he will be a star on the annual broadcast of the Variety telethon. The annual event telethon will be televised from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday on WKBW Channel 7. It will be broadcast from the Adams Mark hotel.

Quarantillo, who lives in Youngstown with his parents, is a good fit for the telethon spotlight because he is an example of triumph over tough challenges, said his mother, Nicole Quarantillo.

“He’s a true success story for that hospital,” said Quarantillo, a manager of a Reebok store, of Women & Children’s Hospital in Buffalo.

Gregory, 6, was born in December 2008, months before his March due date, his mother said. After he was born, she said, he had severe health problems and needed to remain in the hospital for weeks. He weighed less than 3 pounds at birth, she said.

The Quarantillo family had to cope with Greg’s health issues in infancy, including surgery to help him recover from colon problems, his mother said. It took a while for Greg to get through those initial health complications.

“I didn’t hold him until January. It was probably a month,” Nicole said.

Variety, The Children’s Charity of Buffalo and Western New York, raises funds for Children’s as well as local facilities and programs related to kids, organizers of the event said. The Buffalo telethon has been a part of that effort for 53 years.

“All the money stays right here in Western New York,” said Ken Scibetta, a restaurant owner who is general chairman of the 2015 telethon.

Scibetta said that Greg is a great fit for the role of the event’s featured child.

“His story is just amazing. It’s a success story,” he said.

The show on Sunday will include performers Terry Buchwald, Caitlin Koch and the church choir from True Bethel Baptist Church in Buffalo, among others.

These days, Gregory is a healthy child with an active life and lots of interests, according to his mom. He plays baseball and does well in kindergarten in the Lewiston-Porter schools, including in math and reading, his mother said.

She and her husband, Gregory Sr., who works in construction and as a part-time police officer in Youngstown, are involved in a local fire department, where Greg Sr. is second assistant chief and Nicole is in the auxiliary. Greg Jr. likes to participate in fire department activities as much as he can, his mom said.

“He likes to be involved in the fire department,” she said. “… He can’t do much, because he’s only 6. But he just likes to be involved.”

She said her son’s personality is caring and generous.

“He loves fire trucks … He always talks about how he wants to be a police officer like Daddy when he grows up,” she said. “He’s very community-oriented already. He wants to help the public.”