Local high school athletes found a way to cheer on a boy battling cancer.
Dominick Nino is 11 years old, and he’s been living at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida since January.
Cheerleaders and football players from Riverdale High School had a big surprise in store for Dominick when they brought a little of the Friday night lights to him.
They sent over some swag, including a jersey and a piece of the game.
“Eight, my favorite number,” Dominick said. “They got me a football that they use, and they wrote the same thing on it, ‘In this family, no one fights alone.’”
That’s the motto Dominick designed for a T-shirt the school is selling, with proceeds going to Golisano Children’s Hospital.
“You’re now part of this family, and I want you to know that you and everybody else at Golisano’s, we’re with ya, and we’re fightin with ya, and we look forward to maybe coming by the parking lot one of these days and waving at you a whole lot closer than this Zoom will allow us to,” head coach James Delgado said.
In January, Dominick went from playing a soccer game to being diagnosed with leukemia hours later. Before his diagnosis, he was considered a healthy and active 10-year-old boy.
Dominick was experiencing pain in his legs, but his family attributed it to growing pains or a minor soccer injury. When the pain woke Dominick up in the middle of the night, they knew something else was wrong.
His parents took him to the emergency room in Naples, where doctors ran tests which revealed concerning results. Dominick was then brought to Golisano by ambulance, where additional blood work was done.
The answer was every parent’s worst fear — Dominick has leukemia.
Now, Dominick is undergoing aggressive treatments. They will involve month-long stays at Golisano, as he receives inpatient chemotherapy. Dominick and his family will never have to walk this journey alone. Every step of the way, Golisano staff and Barbara’s Friends will be there as this reality becomes their new normal.
Dominick’s mom says the support from the school and the hospital is what helps keeps his spirits up at a time when he really needs it. He’s relapsed twice and is now in isolation…
He showed us around his room where he spends all his time.
“That’s the rocket we made,” Dominick said.
Everyone is waiting to see if his numbers get strong enough for a bone marrow transplant. He has a lot of people hopeful they do.
Riverdale high school students will wear the shirt Dominick made to school Friday and for the football game Friday night.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14. To help bring awareness of the need for support locally, Southwest Florida community leaders – aka Shavee’s – will have their heads shaved by current and former Golisano Children’s Hospital patients throughout September — Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Everyone is invited to watch it happen live on Facebook every Friday at 8 a.m.
For more information, visit Lee Health’s Clips for Cancer page.