Friends of John and Cindy Ordille are amazed at the schedule kept by these parents of two special needs children.
In addition to teaching chemistry at Absegami High School in Galloway Township, John also takes Lucas, 8; and Tommy, 10, for therapy visits several times per week in Cherry Hill, Camden County. And he is a banquet server, mainly at the Showboat Casino-Hotel in Atlantic City for extra income.
Cindy stays home to care for the boys, and since Lucas has very limited mobility and verbal skills, the care required is constant.
The costs of raising boys with severe impairment can be overwhelming, so many of John's friends in the food and beverage industry are getting together for the second annual Hope for the Ordille Children fundraiser June 24.
Lucas, 8, has static encephalopathy, a disease of the brain that alters brain function or structure. The cause is unknown. He is globally delayed, has low muscle tone, is visually impaired and cannot walk or talk, but has recently begun standing on his own, said Cindy Ordille. He also has seizures, immune and gastrointestinal issues and is showing early signs of Multiple Sclerosis.
Tommy, 10, a student at Brigantine Elementary School, is developmentally delayed. This past year he developed an autoimmune disorder called PANDAS that is associated with Streptococcal infections, and characterized by obsessive compulsive disorder, tic disorders and anxiety.
"This year school has been very difficult," John Ordille said. "PANDAS is best treated with IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin), which is not covered by our insurance."
Both children have immune issues, food allergies, special diets, and need intensive therapy. John Ordille hopes this benefit might fund an IVIG treatment for Tommy. The cost is $5,000 to $10,000 per treatment.
"I can't even imagine it," said event organizer Mary Micchelli, 54, of Brigantine. "I have no children, just step grandchildren and nieces and nephews, who are all healthy."
She said the Ordilles must keep a tight schedule to avoid upsetting the kids, who require regularity.
"John and I were sitting in my kitchen talking about different things, and he jumped up. He had to be home at a certain time to put them to bed," she said.
Last year's benefit raised $16,000 and enabled the family to travel to Florida to confer with a new doctor, and get specialized treatment.
After taking new medications, "it has been 10 months and Lucas has made some progress. He is more vocal, has started to climb furniture and is able to free stand for short periods of time," said his dad.
The fundraiser will offer pulled pork, jerked chicken, chicken wings, hoagies, and wraps. The band Soul Shine will play, and Lite 96.9 will do a remote show from the event.
"We want people to have good time, spend money and think of it as a good cause, and that they are getting good food," said Micchelli, who mainly works banquets at the Borgata Casino Hotel & Spa. "After all, we're all in food and beverage."
Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:
If you go
Hope for the Ordille Children, Brigantine Elks Lodge, Bayshore & West Shore Drive, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. June 24. Tickets $15. 10 and younger free. For tickets, call Mary Micchelli at 609-432-1475. Visit facebook.com/events/238008166299875/