Who: Natasha “Tasha” McCann Gurliacci — mom to Dominick, 12; Natalee, 11; and Bryce, 6 — has held a job since she was 12. The now 33-year-old South Abington Twp. resident and 11-year employee of Dickson City’s Olive Garden restaurant has always been the girl to take care of everyone else, even giving her last dollar to a homeless person in need, her mom Denise Smith said. She held her head high when Natalee was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma (a cancer of the eye) at 9 weeks old and stayed by her side as she fought through chemotherapy and other treatments over two years that still left her blind in one eye and with 60% vision in the other. Now, Gurliacci is taking a turn in the chemo chair, as she fights her own diagnosis of Stage II triple-negative breast cancer. Though she tested negative for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, Gurliacci will need to undergo 16 rounds of chemo likely followed by a double mastectomy. With support from her partner of two years, Robert Palmitessa, Gurliacci draws on the fighting spirit of her dad, Thomas McCann, a Desert Storm Navy veteran, and focuses on making sure her kids maintain normalcy, whether it’s getting Dominick to his baseball, football and wrestling matches; watching over Natalee, who is a social butterfly; or staying close to her youngest, Bryce.
What/when/where:Donations can be made online at GoFundMe.com or sent payable to Natasha M. Gurliacci at 222 Camins Parkway, South Abington Twp., PA 18411. Supporters also have organized a 12 Days of Christmas in July Raffle for a Claus, with $5 tickets on sale now until they sell out. Drawings will be held live on the event’s Facebook page each day between July 14 and 25.
Why: Helping in any way possible will make life easier for Gurliacci and her family. Proceeds may be used for medical costs and expenses plus other bills that arise while she is on a leave of absence from work. Even sending a pizza to the home where Gurliacci is the main cook would be a gift, her mother said.
In her words:“Having the community involved would mean so much because I love where I come from. At work, I would get to talk to and engage with people every day, so while I’m not able to enjoy what I love, having the community’s support would help me to know they are still there. At times like this and in hard situations, when everyone comes together, it says a lot and means even more. Thank you to all who have stood with me in this fight.” — Natasha Gurliacci
Update: The online fundraising campaign at GoFundMe.com is ongoing for 12-year-old Isabella “Bella” Rebar, who attends Valley View Middle School and is recovering from a traumatic brain injury. The public also is invited to a 3-on-3 basketball tournament called Balling for Bella set for Friday, June 28, and Saturday, June 29. Registration costs $80 per team at ballingforbella.com. The event, to be held at Riverfront Sports, 5 W. Olive St., Scranton, also will feature a basket raffle, food and entertainment.
Patrice Wilding is a 13-year employee of the Lifestyles Dept. at The Times-Tribune, where she worked her way up from a clerk to a web video producer to a full-time reporter, writer and copy editor. An Olyphant native, she graduated from Mid Valley Secondary Center and earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies with concentration in media arts, political science and communications from Wesley College, Dover, Delaware. She lives in Clarks Summit with her husband, Justin, and their son, Johnny. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5369; @pwildingTT