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Fundraiser planned to help family with children’s medical expenses

LOCKPORT – An event featuring a basket and live auction, as well as a pasta dinner, will help raise funds to defray medical bills for the Casalinuovo family of Lockport and is planned for 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Rapids Fire Hall, 7195 Plank Road, Lockport.

“The Casalinuovo family are hardworking and thoughtful people,” said Diane Abernathy, an event volunteer whose husband is related to the family.

“This is the kind of family that offers and helps anyone in need and now we want to help them.”

Lena Casalinuovo, 16, and her younger sister, Clare, 13, were each diagnosed at age 10 with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease causing severe abdominal pain, fatigue and weight loss. Finding medications that work has been a challenge due to the girls’ severe reactions.

In addition, Lena has been diagnosed with Hidradenitis Suppurativa, a chronic, non-contagious but painful skin disease. Treatment for this condition has exacerbated Lena’s Crohn’s disease, leading her to continue her schooling at home for these past two years of high school.

Both girls have had frequent stays in Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital for their illnesses.

And, following testing, doctors believe that the youngest Casalinuovo daughter, 7-year-old Molly, may also be in the early stages of Crohn’s disease. Their son, Thomas, 8, also has his own struggles with speech and learning disabilities.

“It has been a struggle, especially these past couple of years,” said Karen Casalinuovo, the children’s mother. She talked of Lena’s isolation –her inability to enjoy her high school years.

Admission to Saturday’s fundraiser is free. A pasta dinner will be served from 2:30 to 6 p.m., with takeouts available. Dinners are: $9 for adults, $5 for ages 6-12; and free for children 5 and under. Tickets are available presale or at the door.

Organizers also plan a basket auction and live auction and a “Restaurant Row” feature provides a bottle of wine with a minimum $25 gift certificate to a local restaurant. Organizers are looking for more donations for this offering.

Abernathy said the family’s “hope is to take the girls to the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, but at this time, financially, they can’t do it without our help. And, everything from this event goes directly to the family – everything is 100 percent donated.”

Karen Casalinuovo said the family is also researching a treatment center in New York City for further help.

For more information or to donate basket or live auction items, contact Erin Kinney at 417-0606 or call Bob McFarlane at 695-4219. Also visit: or

Casalinuovo said Rainbow of Help has been “absolutely amazing. Our friends and family have pitched in to help with the fundraiser, but Rainbow of Help gives you amazing guidance. They work like a well-oiled machine.”

Rainbow of Help is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization consisting of volunteers dedicated to assisting others in fundraising efforts to offset the cost of unforeseen medical situations.

It was founded in 1999 by volunteers who have had family or friends impacted by traumatic physical circumstances that required extra help and their services are entirely free.

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