Family receives help in struggle with disease

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Soon after Richard and Jamie Romito found out their son was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy they created a foundation to raise money for the research of the fatal disease and to improve the quality of life for those living with it.

The foundation became even more treasured to the north Denver area couple as a second, then a third, son also were diagnosed with DMD, which is a muscle wasting disease that results in the patient being confined in a wheelchair by early adolescence. There is no cure and the life expectancy is the late 20s for those with the disease.

The Romito Foundation has raised more than $100,000 since 2007, and it has helped fund research, a camp for children with DMD and several field trips to sporting events.

However, it wasn’t until recently that Richard Romito had a stark reality check when he realized he soon would have three sons (Dominic, 12; Collin, 7; and Kaleb, 5) in wheelchairs and the costs of a modified house, modified vehicle, health care and future surgeries was an overwhelming thought.

“I never wanted to think that far ahead, I suppressed the reality of having to find a home that would be accessible for my family and to find transportation,” said Romito, who is a law enforcement officer in the Denver metro area. “I continue to believe there will be a positive treatment that would slow down the progression and or a cure that will allow my boys to remain ambulatory. I realize I need to be thinking about the future and plan now for the future so if the worst comes I am prepared.”  

Through friends, the Bankers Foundation of Colorado heard of the Romito’s financial burden and wanted to help. The Bankers Foundation of Colorado offered to match four times the amount of donations for the Romito family. Community members donated $1,250 and the matching fund added $5,000, making a total donation of $6,250 for the family.

Romito said he got weak-kneed when he heard about the community donations and the matching fund by the Bankers Foundation and that he could not believe there were people who wanted to help his family.

“I’m blessed to have people like that around,” he said. “It’s so refreshing to know there are people out there that still want to help others.”

Chuck Johnston, CEO and president of North Valley Bank and a board member of the Bankers Foundation, said the Foundation works with Colorado community banks to provide matching grants for causes it supports.

“Grants are based on the principle of offering a hand up versus a hand out,” he said. “We’re hoping others will also join in support of the Romito family’s ongoing needs.”

The biggest need for the family is finding and affording a home that are wheelchair accessible — rooms with five feet of radius for turning and ramps at all access points of the home. Romito said that the home has to be big enough to host holidays and other occasions.

“Once all three boys are in wheelchairs, we will have to bring life to them … because 99 percent of the homes (of family and friends) are not accessible and our boys will not be able to get into the homes, much less move around,” he said. “Therefore, we will need a home big enough to bring life to them.”

Anyone interested in donating to the Romito family, can email richjamromito@gmail.com

The Romito Foundation hosts two large events a year to raise money for the Foundation, and the next event is the 2nd Annual Beer Tasting on the Hill, 6:30 p.m. May 9 at Brittany Hill. Tickets are available at www.RomitoFoundation.org. Anyone interested in donating to the Foundation, can do so by emailing richard.romito@romitofoundation.org.