Each year, Stewart's Holiday Match supports more than 1,000 charities that help children in the Capital Region. This year, Time Warner Cable News chose to highlight some of those charities, putting a face to the countless nickels and dimes collected each year. In Clifton Park, one family's tragedy has given hope to hundreds more. It's Nick's Fight to Be Healed.
CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. -- There are some memories that will never fade away.
"He would often be telling jokes, often at the expense of himself," said Janine De Tillio Cammarata or her son Nick. "He didn't care, because he wanted to have other people laugh."
There is some news that a parent never wants to get.
"He was a healthy 12-year-old boy, a swimmer," Janine said. "He had gotten a rash, started to feel fatigued and tired. He finally got a blood test and he was diagnosed with leukemia on July 4."
Nick Cammarata would spend the summer of 2008 battling the disease at Albany Medical Center -- but there are some fights that, no matter how brave you are, you can't overcome.
"He passed away from complications with the chemotherapy, and that was four months later in October 2008," said Cammarata.
But Nick's fight was far from over. In fact, it was just beginning.
"We had a choice, to do something," Cammarata said. "To make a difference, and to make or change, or not do something and grieve deeper for the rest of our lives."
Nick's family decided to do something, and Nick's Fight to Be Healed was born. The Cammaratas hold events annually, like a huge 5-kilometer run each fall. They use the money raised to provide a first line of comfort to families facing their worst nightmare.
"One of my favorite programs that we do is Nick's comfort bag," Cammarata said. "It shows that someone cares about them. We're thinking about them, and here's something to do in the hospital."
It's almost impossible to name the countless programs Nick's Fight provides, from financial assistance to creating go-bags for families who may be making emergency visits to the hospital. When donations come in, like the ones from Stewart's Holiday Match, they don't stay in the bank long.
"We've helped families that have no heat, because they ran out of oil, couldn't afford to pay for it, and the money that we received from Stewart's has helped to immediately help that family," said Cammarata.
Nick's Fight to Be Healed isn't going anywhere. The Cammaratas' other son, Stephen, is going to school for marketing and has become increasingly involved in the charity as he has gotten older. Until there is a cure, the family's fight will continue.
"I've met with parents, moms, who have lost their children and they are very surprised when I say I have two boys. I do. I'm a mom of two boys; one just doesn't happen to physically be with me," Cammarata said.
Special thanks to photographer Steve Kameka, producers Jim Urso and Dave Nichols for contributing to this report.
To learn more, please visit www.fighttobehealed.org and the Stewart's Holiday Match website.