Set Matt Free Of RSD
The following article appeared in The North Providence Breeze newspaper on Wednesday, August 6, 2008.
North Providence 8-year-old sells lemonade to join Matthew Irving's fight
By JANET KERLIN, Breeze Correspondent
NORTH PROVIDENCE - An 8-year-old North Providence girl looking for something to do asked her mother if she could set up a lemonade stand.
This timeless sign of summer can be an early lesson in starting a business and making money.
Cassidy Matteo earned $100, and she gave all of it to fellow North Providence resident Matthew Irving, who is receiving an experimental medical treatment in Germany.
When Cassidy asked her mother for permission to open for business outside their home on Barker Avenue, she received an answer she was not expecting.
"OK, but whatever money you make you have to give to charity," Jodi Matteo recalls. She was allowed to sell lemonade, plus brownies and other treats.
It was Cassidy's grandmother, Rita Cimini of Johnston, who suggested giving the proceeds to the Matthew Irving RSD Medical Fund at Sovereign Bank.
When their neighbors in Fruit Hill learned that Cassidy's lemonade stand was for the medical fund, they pitched in extra.
"People were very generous. Some of the people from Charles Street gave me $20," said Cassidy, who is entering the 3rd grade at St. Augustine School in Providence.
The lemonade stand patrons are among the many people who have raised in excess of $75,000 for uncovered medical treatments and related travel expenses for 21-year-od Matthew Irving, a 2005 graduate of North Providence High School and a former altar server at Mary Mother of Mankind Church.
Matthew is in his third week of treatment at a German hospital for complex regional pain syndrome, also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy or RSD. The experimental ketamine coma treatment is not covered by the family's health insurance.
His mother Nancy and his brother Daniel, 20, report on the family's Internet blog (Setmattfreeofrsd.com) that Matthew is breathing off the respirator and his fever is decreasing. As of their visit to the hospital on Sunday, Aug. 3, he opened his eyes for brief periods, and the day before had nodded his head yes in answer to their questions. He is being giving sedatives to reduce tremors, an expected part of withdrawal from the powerful hallucinogenic.
He will need weeks of follow-up care in Saarbrucken, and later treatments in Philadelphia.
In North Providence, friends and high school teachers have been organizing fund-raisers.
The next event is a night of entertainment at Catch a Rising Star comedy club at Twin River in Lincoln, Aug. 21. The evening will by hosted by Breeze entertainment writer Frank O'Donnell.
Teacher Kathy Lisi said O'Donnell came up with the idea for the fund-raiser.
The featured performer, Cowboy Bill Martin, is described by the comedy club as "one of the most talented and electrifying performers seen on stage today. Not your typical country comic, this cowboy has a way of engaging with audiences ranging from 18 to 80."
The $40 ticket per person price includes crudités, grilled pizza, salad and desserts. Half of the proceeds will go to the medical fund.
For tickets, call Kathy Lisi at 265-8978 by Thursday, Aug. 14.