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Sisters seek help for sweet baby Riley (update)

As you’ve seen in previous posts (11/7/07 and 1/18/08), I’ve been keeping up-to-date on Riley and have been letting all my blogger friends know what’s going on.

As posted by Matthew Van Dongen, in St. Catharines Standard, the fundraiser for Riley raised $16K!!!

We wish Riley and his family best wishes!

Fundraiser for autistic boy raises $16K

Stacey Marazzo already had the inspiration and determination necessary to learn how to treat her son Riley’s autism.

Now she has the money, too.

The Marazzo family raised more than $16,000 towards a home-based treatment program for their 20-month-old son at a weekend fundraiser.

That will enable the St. Catharines mom to head to Massachusetts next month to train in the Son-Rise Program at the Autism Treatment Center of America.

“It was a fantastic event. We had to have had more than 400 people out,” said Marazzo of the fundraising party, which featured musical acts Flat Broke and John Boyd at the Armenian Community Centre.

“There were plenty of people we knew, but quite a few who just heard our story and wanted to help.”

Little Riley had already been diagnosed with several congenital heart defects and endured open-heart surgery before recently being diagnosed with autism.

Autism is a brain development disorder that can impair social interaction and communication and cause repetitive behaviour, often starting before a child is three years old.

The Marazzos were told early treatment was critical — but the waiting list for government-subsidized treatment was two years.

Private, similar treatment would have cost more than $50,000, according to the family’s research.

The Standard told the family’s story earlier this month, including their discovery of a U.S.-based treatment parents could learn, then bring home.

The Son-Rise program has passionate supporters and detractors on the Internet, but Marazzo said she’s confident in the track record of the parent-created treatment.

“It’s totally based in love,” she said. “And it’s something I’ll be totally involved in.”

Marazzo said she’ll need about $18,000 to cover three, one-week training sessions spread throughout this year, including travel.

The money will also help build a specialized playroom that Marazzo and other volunteers will use to help Riley.

The fundraiser brought in more than $16,000, she said, “and it keeps trickling in.”

“Everyone has been so wonderful, so helpful,” she said.

“There’s still a lot of work to do, but it’s worth it. I have my inspiration, and he’s doing great.”

Sisters seek help for sweet baby Riley (cont.)

Bloggers, We had a blog entry a few weeks back about Riley. Here is a follow-up story and a way we can also help!

On Jan. 19, they’re hosting a 7:30 p.m. fundraising party featuring the music of Flat Broke and John Boyd at the Armenian Community Centre on Martindale Road. Tickets are only $ 5.00 at the door. More information at Friends of Riley on Facebook. It’s also a place to gather donations and a forum for support.


Here is the article in St. Catharines Standard about Riley.

Sisters seek help for sweet baby Riley

Here is an article about clients of mine (Tom & Stacey Marazzo) with their son Riley and his daily battle with Autism. This article was recently published in the St. Catharines Standard.



Stacey Marazzo and her sister Niki Moore are hoping to raise funds to help Stacey’s son Riley with his treatment for autism. Niki sells jewelry made by Stacey at her In Touch day spa in Virgil.

Penny Coles
Local Features – Saturday, November 03, 2007 Updated @ 4:58:31 PM

Niki Moore has successfully created an elegant, tranquil atmosphere at her In Touch Day Spa in Virgil, and the jewelry she displays, also elegant, seems like a natural extension of a business with an intended goal of pampering its clients.

The story behind the jewelry, however, has nothing to do with pampering, but is instead a story of a mother’s attempt to help her very special little boy.

Niki’s sister Stacey Marazzo and Stacey’s husband Tom have an adorable and active toddler, now 17 months old, named Riley. On the go constantly, Riley seems like any normal, healthy and busy little boy, but he has had a difficult start to life, and faces more problems in the future.

At just two days old, he was rushed by ambulance to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, where he was diagnosed with a number of life-threatening heart defects.

After enduring many painful tests, procedures, heart failure and open heart surgery by the age of eight months, he continues to require ongoing medical appointments to monitor his condition while he waits for the second stage of his “repair”.

Between the ages of two and four years, Riley will undergo another open heart surgery. Although his heart will never be fixed, his parents hope he will continue to do well for many years, but eventually, he may need a heart transplant, says Stacey.

Because of his health problems, they never leave him with babysitters—anybody who cares for him would require CPR training,know the signs of heart failure and what to do in the case of an emergency—and that’s just too much to put on someone else, says Stacey. With Tom in the Canadian Armed Forces and away for long stretches of time, Stacey faces all the challenges of a single mom, and then some.

Because while she was watching Riley go through the trauma of treatment for his heart defect, she noticed something else that concerned her. He was taking a little longer than normal to learn how to crawl, but that was to be expected—she had been warned to expect some developmental delays—but she found he was also not responding to his name, wasn’t smiling, wasn’t making eye contact, and was displaying repetitive behaviours that are symptoms of autism.

At first her worries were dismissed by her pediatrician, but an assessment by a developmental specialist confirmed her fears. Riley, in addition to all his physical health challenges, has autism.

Stacey’s premonitions at least led to an early diagnosis, but at this stage, that isn’t proving to be the benefit to Riley that is should be.

Stacey and Tom have been told that early intervention would give their son a fighting chance at a “normal” life, but they are slowly finding he is too young for many of the typical types of therapy provided for autistic children, and it may be two years or more before he can start the intensive treatment he needs.

In the meantime, Stacey hopes to be able to travel to Massachusetts for the training she needs to begin to work with Riley using the Son Rise treatment program, a program designed specifically to help children with autism progress to their full potential.

Hence the jewelry, which Stacey makes when Riley sleeps. It is an escape for her from her worries, an opportunity to take her mind off what has become an almost constant struggle, and by selling it through In Touch, is a source of fundraising for the expensive treatment he needs.

In addition, Niki is turning to the NOTL community to ask for help. She is hoping a local organization might offer a location free of charge to hold a fundraiser for her nephew, “a one-of-a-kind, very special little boy.”

The money will be used to finance Stacey’s Son Rise training in Massachusetts, which she hopes to attend in February.

The event is scheduled Jan. 19, although they don’t yet have a venue, and anyone interested in helping Niki can email her at or call 905-468-2391.

Even our small clients are happy!

riley-marazzo.JPGHi, My name is Riley and my mommy and daddy asked me to tell Timothy and his team that they knew they chose the right people for the job of selling our house! They are very happy with Timothy and his entire team, including Stacey from Staging Spaces, because they are professional, friendly and very knowledgeable. They would recommend Timothy’s team to everyone buying or selling a house.

Riley Marazzo
(Mom and Dad: Stacey and Tom Marazzo)