ShareThis Page

South Allegheny student gives back to Make-A-Wish

| Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, 1:21 a.m.
South Allegheny second-grader Tony Cook holds a homemade cupcake in the shape of Make-A-Wish's star logo. Tony is reaching out to his school community to raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
South Allegheny second-grader Tony Cook and his mother Diana Cook sell baked goods during an event at the district elementary school. As a thank-you to the foundation that helped him, Tony is seeking support from South Allegheny communities in raising funds for Make-A-Wish. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News

Tony Cook is thanking Make-A-Wish Foundation for a chance to replace daily pains with the simple joy of being a kid.

Tony, 7, of Liberty was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis at 9 months of age, after a chest X-ray during a severe illness revealed a tumor in his lung. Prior to surgery, Tony's family and doctors “thought the worst” in diagnosing the boy with malignant neuroblastoma.

After a biopsy, Tony's condition was determined to be noncancerous neurofibromatosis, which causes severe pain as tumors grow on nerve tissue.

“There's no cure,” his mother Diana Cook said. “Every six months, he goes in for an MRI. Every six months, we pray that there's not a tumor anywhere critical.”

An honor roll student and taekwondo green belt, Tony is active in school and at home. He isn't held back by the constant severe pain associated with his condition.

“It never crossed my mind that Make-A-Wish could help him,” Diana Cook said. “I didn't realize they have programs for any kid with a life-threatening illness.”

A family friend nominated Tony, along with his parents and siblings, for a Disney vacation and stay at the Give Kids the World Village storybook resort in April.

“Everything was wonderful,” Diana Cook said. “The volunteers colored pictures with our boys. They wanted to spend time with our family.”

Tony said the experience was greater than anything he could have imagined.

“It was fun,” he said. “I met the Avengers, I made a star with my name on it, and I got to eat ice cream for breakfast.”

Tony said he wants other children to have the opportunity to forget their pain, even for a short time.

“I know Make-A-Wish can help kids who have pain, and I like helping other kids,” Tony said. “I thought I should donate my money so kids can do whatever their wish is.”

The Cook family learned about Make-A-Wish fundraisers while listening to holiday music on WSHH 99.7 FM. Tony asked his parents Bilal and Diana Cook how he could help.

“We explained to him how people raise money, and he asked if he could do the same thing,” Diana Cook said. “He started with what he had, and he would not keep one penny in his piggybank.”

Tony handed over his savings last year, making a Christmas donation of $185.35. He hopes to raise funds all year for a larger donation this Christmas.

“I save up all the money from the tooth fairy and my report card money — all the money I have,” Tony said. “I'll take that and I'll donate it to Make-A-Wish.”

Tony raised $264.50 this month by hosting a bake sale during parent-teacher conferences at South Allegheny Elementary, where he is in second grade. He is planning another bake sale during South Allegheny's inaugural Dancing with the Athletes event on April 5 at 7 p.m.

Community events are being planned outside the school, Diana Cook said. Local Girl Scout troops are putting ideas together, and the Pittsburgh-based D.B. Root Co. is organizing an airline miles donation. Specific dates have not been set.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.