By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
MARGATE – Little “Johnny The Brave” of Margate celebrated his sixth birthday in a very special way this year. Johnny Amodeo’s real birthday isn’t until Wednesday, but on Monday, other children like him learned what it is like to have a superhero as a friend.
According to his mother, Kelle Amodeo, Johnny, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor earlier this year, wanted to do something special for the child life specialists at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he underwent numerous rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatments that rendered him cancer-free.
Child life specialists, there are 89 of them, are some of the most important people at Children’s Hospital. The “smile specialists” are the ones who brighten the days for their brave patients by providing them with toys, art supplies, musical instruments, video games and, of course, birthday cakes.
“They are an amazing group of people who keep these kids happy,” Kelle Amodeo said. “Since September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Johnny decided to do a toy drive and deliver the toys to them.”
Word traveled through the Margate community, and throughout the month, well-wishers, supporters and Johnny’s classmates at the William H. Ross Elementary School dropped off more than $7,000 worth of children’s toys at Johnny’s house. But that’s not all. They also donated about $4,000 to help brighten the days of other children.
On Monday, Little Johnny and his family, which includes his grandfather, Margate Commissioner John Amodeo, and his grandmother, retired Eugene A. Tighe Middle School media specialist Luann Amodeo, drove over the Walt Whitman Bridge to the world renowned hospital, where they were greeted by a group of Smile Specialists, who will distribute the toys to other children battling childhood cancers.
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