On the Avenue: Kiwanians pledge to help Bay Ridge boy suffering from genetic condition

’Tis the season to give back, and members of the Kiwanis Club of Bensonhurst & Bay Ridge are asking for the community’s help in giving back to a local family in need this holiday season.

Bay Ridge resident Jose Benitez recently appealed to members of the club about his son Timoteo, 11, who suffers from a rare genetic condition that has left him wheelchair-bound and unable to care for himself. Due to abnormalities of chromosome pair 15, Timoteo has suffered with developmental delays, vocal cord palsy, a feeding tube and frequent seizures, his father explained during a meeting held “on the avenue” at Cebu Bar & Bistro, 8801 Third Ave.

“He has suffered a lot, and he requires constant care from nurses and family members,” Benitez said.

While dealing with the ever-increasing medical costs associated with his son’s treatments, Benitez said he is desperately trying to find a means to get his son to the city for important visits with specialists.

“Now that he is getting older, it is becoming harder and harder to transport him to his appointments,” he said. “I used to be able to carry him and lift him into our family van, but as he has grown and his condition has worsened, he is basically homebound.”

Benitez said he explored the idea of adding a wheelchair lift to his family minivan, but was told that he would need to purchase a new, specialized vehicle instead.

Members of the Benitez family are pictured during a rare public outing for Timoteo, who is wheelchair-bound due to ongoing complications from abnormalities of chromosome pair 15 — a rare genetic condition. Photo courtesy of Jose Benitez

That’s when he reached out to the Kiwanians at the urging of his friends and neighbors.

“I didn’t even know people like this existed,” he told this newspaper. “They are like angels and I am so thankful for anything they might be able to do to help my family.”

Benitez came to the meeting with his other son David and a life-sized portrait of Timoteo. Immediately, board members assured them that they could count on Kiwanis for help.

“Timoteo’s story is exactly why Kiwanis exists — to assist children who are suffering and their families,” Ben-Bay Kiwanis Acting President Thomas Aellis said. “This family has been dealing with a rare condition for many years and they deserve assistance wherever they can get it. We are happy to do our part.”

In addition to an initial pledge of $5,000 from the Club’s foundation, Aellis has organized an online fundraiser that will run through the holidays, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to benefit the family.

“With the holidays approaching, we wanted to do as much as possible to help this family, so we are asking everyone to donate via Facebook and Instagram,” Aellis explained. “Every single penny raised will go to the Benitez family to help Timoteo get the help and care that he needs.”

For details on the fundraiser and to donate, visit the Club’s fundraising page on Facebook and Instagram.

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Rise and shine!

Members of the Merchants of Third Avenue Civic Improvement Association, Inc. were excited to announce that the association will be hosting a very special tree lighting on Sunday, Dec. 10, with festivities planned from noon to 4 p.m.

Four trees sponsored by Charmed by JLM, the Green Spa & Wellness Center, The Ridge and Caffe Café will be positioned “on the avenue” outside Foodtown Supermarket, 9105 Third Ave., and lit for the community to enjoy throughout the holiday shopping season.

“Our thanks to Foodtown for hosting these community trees, to our sponsors and also to Chrisie Canny and her team of helpers who organized this effort to beautify and benefit Third Avenue,” said Merchants of Third Avenue President Dan Texeira. “We look forward to welcoming everyone on Dec. 10 for a festive celebration of all that the avenue has to offer during the holidays.”

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