by George Severini
There are two phrases that no mother ever wants to hear in the same sentence: “your son . . . and “motorcycle accident.” When Two River native—and career nurse, currently with VNA—Valerie Schiafone heard those words a couple weeks back, her life here in New Jersey ground to a halt, and she took the next available flight to California to be with son, Chris, age 25. If there was any good news about the incident that broke three of the vertebrae in Chris’s neck, it was that he had no head injuries. After a brief period of being unconscious at the scene of the accident in Los Angeles, Chris has been able to participate in getting his nerves to fire mobility back into his limbs. Nonetheless, it will be a long and expensive process.
Meanwhile, back in New Jersey, Val’s Pals, as the action group soon started calling itself, began firing mobility into the community network. Spearheaded by close friend Pam McCoy, Val’s Pals began to plan a benefit event, to take place in Valerie’s childhood hometown of Monmouth Beach. The November 6th event in the Church of the Precious Blood parish building (2 p.m. to 7 p.m.) promises a big turnout and attendees will be treated to non-stop music by the area’s premier musicians and singers. Couldn’t be a more appropriate response from the musical community; for a decade and a half Valerie has been a key volunteer with Holiday Express and for The Twilight Concert, held annually at St. George’s by the River Church in Rumson, to benefit the AIDS Resource Foundation for Children.
In a recent phone conversation Chris told us, “I really appreciate what everybody’s doing back home. It’s a big help.” No doubt, an uplifted spirit is key to recovery and Chris already had that going for him. His agility on a skateboard had earned him endorsements from DGK Skateboards. That level of athleticism and commitment to hard work just might be why Chris has surprised everyone by being able to “free walk” just several weeks following surgery and in-patient rehab. Outpatient rehab is the next tough step.
We have the easy part: getting together for a friend who’s always been there for others, having some excellent food and drink and listening to a roster of outstanding bands that is longer than this article. For more information on what’s planned, how you can help, what you can contribute, etc., the go-to person is Pam McCoy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.