CDD Announces Annual Appeal Campaign


Milford, PA – Barbara J. Buchanan, CDD Board Member and Marion B. Almquist, Founder of the CDD, are pleased to announce that they will be co-chairing the 2010 Annual Appeal Campaign to raise funds for the Center for Developmental Disabilities of Pike County, Ltd. located at 101 Pocono Drive in Milford, PA.  The solicitation letter will be mailed out to the community during the first two weeks of November or a copy may be obtained by logging onto the website and clicking on Annual Appeal Campaign.  “This is a crucial time for taking care of so many children with developmental disabilities living in Pike County and we are confident the community will support CDD’s mission,” stated Mrs. Buchanan.

The feature family for this year’s Annual Appeal Letter is Nick & Jennifer Peruso along with their three and a half year old son Gabriel, of Matamoras, PA, who was diagnosed with William’s Syndrome. Williams Syndrome (WS) is a genetic abnormality that happens randomly at the beginning of pregnancy and can affect anyone.  It is a deletion of genes on chromosome 7, which carries medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays, and learning disabilities.  WS affects 1 in 10,000 people worldwide and an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people in the United States.  One of the most pronounced traits is an extremely friendly and endearing personality marked with extreme compassion for others. WS is so rare their pediatrician had only seen it at the beginning of her medical career in an older child.

“First of all we are so honored to have been chosen as the CDD campaign family,” Jennifer stated.  “To have the opportunity to express our feelings about CDD and our sincere gratitude for all that CDD is to our family is an absolute gift,” she added.

The Peruso Family’s journey began in 2006, when they were celebrating the announcement of their first pregnancy.  The pregnancy was progressing fine until the 24th week when a routine ultrasound showed that their baby was developing behind schedule.  Gabriel Nicholas Peruso arrived on January 25, 2007, 8 weeks premature, weighing 2lbs. and 10 ounces.  Gabriel spent five weeks in the neo-natal intensive care unit at Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, PA.  Jen stayed by his side and Nick drove to the hospital everyday to see Gabriel and become updated on medical terms and procedures surrounding his care.

“There were so many emotions swirling around in my head the day he was born: excitement, joy, happiness and nervousness for our beautiful little boy; we had wanted to be parents so badly and the prospect of parenting a preemie was completely overwhelming to us,” Jen stated.  “Nick and I stayed focused on taking our challenges as they came and through it all being so very grateful that Gabriel survived each challenge he faced, knowing our little miracle child still had many obstacles that lie ahead of him,” she added.

At three months old, Gabriel was evaluated and qualified for Early Intervention Services provided through the CDD, which included Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Special Instruction and Speech Therapy.  Denise Marcel, Occupational Therapist, focused on helping Gabriel drink from a bottle, and later to transition to baby food and eventually to solid food.  She also worked on encouraging Gabriel to use both hands to reach, grab and hold onto small items.  During his weekly Physical Therapy visits, Susan Ficken helped his family learn how to work with Gabriel so that he could begin to tolerate lying on his stomach, roll over and sit up.  Special Instructor, Colleen Sheldon, supported Gabriel’s development so that he could develop foundation skills necessary for language learning and finally Lauren Lockwood, Speech Pathologist, fostered Gabriel’s communication skills by encouraging him to imitate sounds and by teaching him to use basic signs to request what he wanted or needed.  For more than two years, the CDD staff visited Gabriel’s home weekly striving to help him development basic motor and communication skills, as well as prepare him for his transition to a pre-school program.

Today, Gabriel is three and half years old and attends the Early Intervention Preschool Program at the CDD.  His teacher, Ana Balcarcel, provides a rich learning environment where Gabriel is encouraged to participate in play, arts and crafts, music and stories with his peers. He is provided with Speech Therapy as part of his preschool program helping him to make choices and communicate with his friends.  Gabriel continues to receive Occupational and Physical Therapy and he is beginning to color with crayons, negotiate the stairs and playground with increased confidence and independence, as well as utilize words to communicate his daily needs.

“The most amazing and magical thing about the CDD is that every child gets what they need, not based on labels, but based on who they are as an individual,” stated Jen.  “We will be forever grateful for the CDD and we look forward to watching him grow and thrive in their compassionate loving environment,” she added.

For more than 40 years, CDD has supported families and children with developmental disabilities in Pike County.  This continues to be a unique community service that targets a population of children who are vulnerable and underserved.  CDD provides comprehensive educational, therapeutic, behavioral, and family support services for children with developmental delays and disabilities from birth to kindergarten age.  Their grass roots response began with Marion Almquist, a nurse and long-time resident of Pike County, who visited families and helped them access information and services.  Over the years, CDD has evolved into a multi-disciplinary program that annually serves over 200 children and their families. CDD offers an inclusion program serving typical children but also offers expertise in serving children with developmental delays and disabilities.  The CDD currently maintain a STARS 4 rating with the Office of Child Development and Early Learning and is a recognized leader in early intervention and education services in Pike County.

“Ninety-five percent of the children we serve transition to the Delaware Valley School District and attend regular kindergarten with minimal or no learning supports on an annual basis,” stated Ann Gillerlane, Executive Director.  “Without our early intervention services, children would not be prepared for kindergarten and there would be a dramatic increase in the need for specialized services in our community in turn increasing costs to our community, as well as our local district,” she added.

The CDD has helped hundreds of families in Pike County, like the Peruso Family, since it first began offering support for children with developmental disabilities and delays.  Please consider sending a donation to the CDD, which will enable them to strengthen and expand the programs for children who critically need the CDD’s assistance.  If you would like more information regarding this year’s campaign or to make a credit card donation, please contact Diane J. Chudoba, Vice President of Development at (570) 296-3992 ext. 64 or log onto the website at to download the full story and donation reply card.