Leslie Montali hasn’t seen some of her friends in Bayside in 20 years, but they’re all coming together this month to raise funds for a worthy cause.
Montali, who currently resides in Boca Raton, FL, with her husband and high school sweetheart, Adam, is driving back to Bayside to host the Butterfly Dreams Golf Outing on April 29 at the . All proceeds from the event go towards medical care for their 7-year-old daughter, Ashtyn, who suffers from cerebral palsy.
“I’ve never experienced a place like Bayside before,” said Montali, who also has a 3-year-old son, Jesse. “I really believe the people we grew up with and the experiences we had in Bayside have kept Adam and I together, and made our marriage last despite the difficult times. We can’t wait to go back home.”
Montali met her husband Adam, a student at , while she was enrolled at IS 25. They were friends for several years before they began dating in November 1991, eventually marrying in May 2001.
They gave birth to their first child, Ashtyn, in June 2003, but immediately sensed something was wrong.
“Sucking on a bottle was an issue from the very beginning, but she wasn’t sitting up or rolling either,” said Montali. “She was missing all of the milestones.”
At four months old, Ashtyn weighed only 9 pounds and 8 ounces. Montali began taking her for extensive tests and blood work that ruled out every metabolic and genetic disorder that existed.
Finally, when Ashtyn was 2, an MRI confirmed that she had 50 percent brain damage and her condition was identified as cerebral palsy.
“She requires 24 hour care because she isn’t able to do anything on her own,” said Montali. “I quit my job because it’s such a huge responsibility. It pains me so much to say this, but it’s like taking care of a big infant in some ways.”
Montali says she struggled to find adequate care for her daughter in Florida before enrolling her at Abi’s Place, a therapeutic school in Coral Springs. She now receives one-on-one speech, occupational and physical therapies, among others, on a daily basis.
Although their insurance covers some of the expenses, Montali says there are still a great deal of costs which she and her husband must cover on their own.
“There’s a special chair we’re looking to get her which costs $6,000,” said Montali. “She requires a special bed, as well as special foods and medicine, and her therapy bills add up as well. Because she’s getting older, it’s harder for me to carry her from room to room.”
Montali says after reaching out to some of her friends--Bryan Yankelevitz and Seth Barcus, her brother’s best friends growing up, and Tami Oppenheimer, her friend from high school and maid of honor--about helping secure funding for Abi’s Place, they brought up the idea of holding a fundraiser for Ashtyn.
They then created a committee to produce the event, which will include a golf outing and auction, among other things.
“We’re trying to raise $10,000, but anything we can get will help so much,” said Montali. “We’re still looking at getting people to register for the golf outing and securing any additional sponsorships for the event.”
Perhaps just as importantly, Montali said she is looking forward to the reunion with Bayside friends who have reached out in a time of need.
“I still can’t believe that this event has become a reality,” said Montali. “A lot of my friends haven’t met Ashtyn yet, so it’s going to be wonderful seeing them all again.”
Registration and donations for the event can be made at butterflydreams.myevent.com