ANTONIO FORTE TRANSPLANT FUND TRUST - Please help us , by helping him!
Boy honored at Disney for fundraising effort
By STAFF/Intelligencer Journal 
Vincent Forte, (11) of Manheim Township has been honored at Florida's Walt Disney World for his fundraising efforts on behalf of his younger brother, 6-year-old Tony.In just a year, Vincent Forte has raised $70,000 for a fund being established to pay for uninsured medical expenses that is not currently covered by Medical Assistance for a complete stomach and intestinal transplant that his brother needs.The younger Forte has a disease that debilitates the function of the gastrointestinal tract, and he and his family are awaiting the hoped-for transplant.Vincent Forte, among other honors, was named with his family as grand marshals at the daily parade at Disney World's Magic Kingdom on Oct. 2.
The second annual "Tony's Harvest Fest," a day of activities to benefit the transplant fund trust, will be held Saturday,October 15 at Clipper Magazine Stadium.It includes a craft show, Halloween festival, candlelight 5K walk and costumed harvest dance. For details, visit

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Staff Writer

From a second-story window, 6-year-old Tony Forte peeked at the crowd gathering in the back yard of his home on Fruitville Pike.Moments later, the youngster tiptoed past the open door, trying not to look at the cameras as he grabbed his boots.Then he came outside, into a yard blending Christmas and Halloween in a loose "Nightmare Before Christmas" theme. He clutched a pair of toy binoculars and wore a backpack that keeps him alive.He didn't know why a dozen or so strangers were waiting for him and his family.He was soon joined by his parents, Stephen and Monica Forte, and his brothers, Vincent, 11, and Dominic, 8.That's when Chuck Lucius, CEO of the Gradient Gives Back Foundation of Minnesota, told them what they were already starting to suspect: They had been chosen to receive a grant that would save their home from foreclosure and keep them financially afloat for another year and more."You're going to make me lose it," Monica Forte said, beginning to cry.June Oppman, a financial planner from York, wrapped an arm around her. Lucius, still explaining why they were there, started to choke up, too.The nationwide outreach program assists families in financial need. The Fortes — the second family in the nation to receive a Gradient grant — were given mortgage payments for the coming year."This saves our home," Monica Forte said. "We were on the verge of losing it."The root of the family's financial distress is Tony, who has total colonic Hirschsprung's disease and requires round-the-clock care from his parents.Tony is on a waiting list for a complete stomach and intestinal transplant, and he may need a new liver, too. In the meantime, the intravenous line in his backpack keeps him alive; without it, his mother said, he'd be living full-time in a hospital.His brothers must be home-schooled because of the threat of infection from other children.Between Tony's care and the boys' schooling, the Fortes have had to give up their jobs. Meanwhile, doctors have told them to raise about $1 million to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses "For four years, we've lived in and out of the Penn State Children's Hospital," Monica Forte said. "People don't know what that's like."When the call for a transplant comes, she said, they'll head to the University of Pittsburgh's Children's Hospital, where they can expect to spend three to nine months, depending on the boy's recovery time after surgery."The call could come at any time," she said. "They told us to be ready. Be packed. So we're prepared — as prepared as we can be."A friend of the family already has donated the use of a mobile home so they have a place to stay in Pittsburgh, Monica Forte said.She watched Tony as he ran happily around the yard, not entirely sure what was going on among the grownups but catching the sense of excitement. She smiled a little sadly."It's going to take another child's life to help him," she said. "That's a hard thing."Tony, corralled by his brother Dominic, returned to the party, gasping for breath after running, riding his bike and showing off his ninja moves for the crowd. Soon, he was giving hugs all around."We can't thank you enough," his mother said. "How do you thank people who are trying to save the life of your child? The words are not enough.""This," she waved her hand at the group of people standing in her yard. "It will probably hit me tonight."She smiled."But I can honestly say, 2012 looks brighter now."Besides the mortgage payments, the Fortes will receive free financial counseling for the rest of their lives from June Oppman, president of the Transition Advisor Group, and John Toomey, president of Transition Financial Services, both of York."We're going to continue working on this throughout the year," a teary-eyed Oppman told the Fortes. "When we found out what the Gradient Gives Back Foundation was doing, we wanted to be a part of it. We're committing to you for the rest of your life."The family also received a handful of other donations from local merchants, including gift certificates for groceries, toys and haircuts for the boys Lucius leaned in at one point and slipped a $100 bill into Monica Forte's shaking hand."Have a nice Christmas," he whispered. "Do something fun with this."He turned and tousled Tony's hair with his hand."He deserves a normal life," Lucius said. "I'm happy we can help."Vincent, the eldest boy in the family, has launched a website at to raise money for Tony. His mother said they'd like to see the site grow to provide assistance to "other families who are going through this. People shouldn't have to lose their homes."

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