Brandon Monteleone of Penn Township had a tough time finding words to describe the outpouring of support his family has received since his 2-year-old son Rocco was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia on Dec. 30.
“It’s hard to explain,” Monteleone said. “Just finding out that Rocco had cancer was so tough.”
In the two months since the diagnosis, neighbors, community members and family friends have come together to form Rocco’s Warriors, a group dedicated to raising money to help support the family through Rocco’s treatment.
“Our neighborhood is rather amazing,” said Trish Pizzuto. “As soon as we heard the news, we got together to see what we could do to help.”
Pizzuto created a Rocco’s Warriors Facebook page to serve as a hub to support the family.
“We started with 14 people from our neighborhood,” she said. “Now it’s more than 1,500 people.”
The group’s first fundraiser was a simple one: sell yard signs to welcome Rocco and his family back home from the hospital.
“We sold 250 signs,” Pizzuto said. “We went into t-shirts, and we’ve sold more than 500 so far.”
Monteleone said the family was still in the hospital with Rocco when the Facebook page was created.
“We saw the numbers climbing, and we couldn’t believe when we saw where they’re at now,” he said.
The group also recently held a community concert fundraiser featuring jazz bands from Jeannette, Penn-Trafford and Gateway high schools. A drag-queen bingo fundraiser planned in May has already sold out of tickets.
They are currently selling tickets for a gift card raffle that will take place in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Lottery’s evening number drawing on April 19. Tickets are $10, and there are more than $1,500 in gift cards that will be raffled off.
Group member Robin Lang said her phone is ringing off the hook with people looking to pitch in and help out any way they can.
“We want to try and keep them going, that’s all,” Lang said.
Monteleone said it’s wonderful to know that his neighbors and community care and want to help.
“I come home and there’s cash and gift cards on the table, or someone’s dropping by with dinner,” he said. “It’s something all the time.”
Raffle tickets are available by contacting a group member through the Rocco’s Warriors Facebook page, or at the following Penn Township locations:
• JCB Convenience Store, 3535 Route 130
• Crafty Shack, 1251 Harrison City Export Road
• Ski’s & Nick’s Lounge, 2035 Route 130
• Hair Creations, 3354 Route 130
All proceeds will benefit the Monteleone family.