Written by Steve Mosco Wednesday, 11 September 2013 00:00
When Joseph and LeaAnn Falabella lost their 9-year-old daughter, Alexandra, to pediatric cancer in 2009, the Plainview couple searched for meaning amongst all the heartache. Though grieving their immense loss, they found a way to honor their daughter’s memory and keep her spirit alive as an inspiration for others.
They created the Lexiebean Foundation soon after Alexandra died from an infection while receiving treatment for Medullablastoma. The inspiration to start the foundation came during Alexandra’s physically and emotionally draining hospital stays, surgeries and chemotherapy treatments.
“When she [Alexandra] was sick, we received gifts from a foundation and it brightened her day,” said her father Joe, adding that his daughter’s nickname inspired the name of the foundation. “It took away from the problems, even for a little bit, and gave her the chance to focus on something other than the disease. And we want to continue that and bring hope to others in our daughter’s name.”
To that end, the foundation pursues, plans and raises money to support families through community fundraisers, while providing financial and emotional support that allows parents to concentrate on their child’s wellness – and allows them to simply be there for their child.
But the foundation provides more than financial support. Joe’s wife LeaAnn will actively contact the child’s family and finds out what might comfort them; and she will put together a care package filled with blankets, pillows, games, books, gift cards and many other items meant to ease the child’s stress and provide some relief for the family as well.
It is a way to provide a measure of joy for families going through the unthinkable. Falabella said the foundation also provides emotional support through an extended network of parents who have been through similar experiences.
“Lexie would be sick, in the hospital going through her treatments and another kid would come in sick and crying. She would feel so bad for them,” he said. “With everything she was going through, she wanted to lift their spirits. This foundation keeps her ideals alive.”
As working parents, the Falabella’s need help keeping the foundation viable. A 501c3 charitable organization, the Lexiebean Foundation requires donations to help obtain resources. And a chance meeting recently facilitated a generous donation that will help the foundation double its charitable efforts.
The Falabellas met John and Janet Kornreich at a Sunrise Day Camp event this summer, and after talking about Lexiebean, the John & Janet Kornreich Charitable Foundation saw fit to make a donation to dramatically increase the foundation’s capacity to help families.
“We cannot thank Janet and John enough for choosing us to be the recipients of their donation,” said Falabella. “They noticed the work we are doing and they think it’s important.”
The donation will help the Lexiebean Foundation increase the financial help it provides. The foundation works mainly with Cohen Children’s Medical Center to connect with suffering families, but they hope to soon expand their reach to Winthrop Hospital, as well as Stony Brook.
Expanding Lexiebean furthers the legacy of Alexandra beyond her Plainview home, where the family talks about her on a daily basis. Alexandra’s younger brother and sister, Anthony, 8, and Ava, who turns six on September 23, still remember their older sibling very fondly.
“We talk about her everyday in this house,” said Falabella. “Ava was young when Lexie was sick, but she remembers her. And Anthony was going through everything with us at that time. He has a lot of memories of her.”
Falabella said Anthony is very involved in the foundation and tells his classmates at Kramer Lane School about his brave sister.
With the memories of that troubled time often tinged with anguish and tears, the Falabellas seek to make a difference where they can – and sweeten the often impossibly wretched days and nights of suffering.
Always with their Lexiebean leading the way.
“The hardest part was always watching her suffer. It is something you have no control over,” he said. “But being by her side always and her knowing we were there for her; it was a big help to Lexie. You cannot control anything else except for the love and comfort you provide. And that is the spirit of our foundation.”
To learn more about the Lexiebean Foundation, visit
www.lexiebeanfoundation.org or call 888-539-2326.