In the wake of a recent fire at the Colantuono home in Warwick, the family is feeling blessed to have all made it out safely.
The home sustained extensive damage and they have been displaced, as the home is uninhabitable.
One of the most important things in Niveyah Colantuono's life was lost – her electric wheelchair was destroyed. The wheelchair was in her bedroom where the fire began. Maya Colantuono, Niveyah’s mother, sprung into action getting everyone out safely. Maya then ran back in hoping to get Niveyah's wheelchair out but after struggling with it and noticing the flames were becoming more intense, she had no choice but to leave it behind.
Word spread quickly about the fire and the loss of Niveyah's wheelchair so Kerry O'Neil, a family member, immediately put together a GoFundMe. The hope was to raise the money as quickly as possible in order to replace the wheelchair so that Niveyah could get back her independence.
The response from the community has been overwhelming, from people who know the family to complete strangers who have opened their hearts to help in a time of need. "We are completely blown away!" Maya Colantuono said.
As the GoFundMe grows the wish is now to replace Niveyah's wheelchair with an updated version in which she will actually be able to stand. Niveyah turns ten in May.
The Colantuono family has a long road ahead of them but they are staying positive.
"It puts us way out of our comfort zone but there is some gift in that," Maya said from the hotel lobby of their temporary "home."
Currently they are searching for a home to rent, which would need to have at least three to four bedrooms and one bedroom on the first floor, along with a full bath to fit Niveyah's needs. Their hope is to find something soon, but as of right now they are thankful to simply have two adjoining rooms at the hotel in which they are staying.
It is the little things in life at this point, like the warm chocolate chip cookies coming out of the hotel kitchen for the kids to share and the beaded bracelets they were making together. Family is everything for the Colantuono's and, while the fire has taken away so much, it certainly has not taken away Niveyah's huge smile.
You can continue to donate to the Colantuono family at www.gofundme.com/please-help-niveyah.