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Three Holiday Angel-Sisters Say Thanks for the Playground

She didn’t like getting stepped on while playing in the park. At age four, Jillian Cordi is the size of a 16-month-old, because she was born with a rare medical syndrome called PHACE. But Jillian was dancing, singing, and saying thank you, along with her two older sisters, Gabriella and Christina, as the Cordi family thanked more than a hundred people who helped Jillian acquire her own personal playground.

Saturday, Dec. 18 at the VFW hall in South Farmingdale, neighbors, contractors, developers, friends, family, and Make-A-Wish marketing and communications director Gaby Sappington all gathered to eat, drink and be merry at the Cordis’ thank-you-party.

Jillian’s older sisters Gabriella and Christina, who can flush a port, change a feeding tube, and perform CPR, can now watch Jillian swing and slide as well as have their own friends over to do the same.

Vicki Cordi, the girls’ mother, is particularly thankful for how the playground allows Gabriella and Christina to catch a break while caring for their little sister. Cordi looked at her girls and said she can hardly believe “what great little people we’ve made; all three of them.”

Make-A-Wish Foundation of Metro New York provided a swing bar, chime fence, and playhouse as part of Jillian’s wish, but policy prevents them from doing landscaping. So, family and community members joined forces and completed the project.

Joe and Dolores Meglio noticed something going on in the Cordis’ yard and donated 1,000 feet of sod from Delalio Sod Farms.

Dolores said, “We could feel what this family was going through. If it [PHACE] happened to one of our children, we would want the community to embrace us, too.”

To get the playground up and swinging, local children sold lemonade, the Agres family sold candy, and the Guthys ran a garage sale.

Nearly two dozen neighbors and friends pitched in to complete the project. Siobhan Schneider, Eileen Shields, Kladvia Krieg, Meg Scire, and Karen Michael organized fundraising. Don Molloy of Molloy Landscaping donated design time, crew labor, and discounts. Mayor Butch Starkie of Starkie Brothers’ Nursery donated plants and large trees for privacy. Tom Consentino from Aqua Pro installed in-ground sprinklers, and Girl Scout Troop 3444, guided by Sean Michael and supervised by Eileen Shields and Meg Scire, built a waterfall. Dan Kornfeld from the Farmingdale Summit and Paul Leo from the Carpenters’ Union built a ramp so Jillian can access the playground’s equipment. Brian Sanders from Special Affair Caterers donated the entire party and Eddie Esposito from Espo Entertainment donated the services of John Love as the DJ for the night.

The regional chapter of Make-A-Wish Foundation in Lake Success grants wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses, not necessarily terminal ones, as commonly believed. For more information about the foundation, visit www.metrony.wish.org or call (516) 944-6212.