The words on Jo Ann Rosa’s Christmas card last year expressed a belief her family lives by: “Life brings us to unexpected places. Love brings us home.”
The Selden woman’s 15-year-old son, Andrew, was sitting on his bicycle when he was hit by a car on Adirondack Drive in May 2010. No charges were filed against the driver.
“That split second changed our lives forever,” Jo Ann Rosa said.
Andrew, now 16, suffered severe traumatic brain injury, broken bones, a fractured skull, lacerations to the liver, collapsed lungs and contusions to his heart. He has gone into cardiac arrest three times.
Andrew has been treated first at Stony Brook University Medical Center and St. Charles Hospital; currently, he requires round-the-clock nursing care and lives at St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital in Queens.
But there is nothing Jo Ann Rosa wants more than to bring her boy home.
“There’s something missing – his presence,” she said. “It’s just not the same.”
Now, the community is working to help her bring Andrew home.
“Operation Bring Andrew Home” has brought together classmates who bought bracelets honoring Andrew, local firefighters and other community groups who’ve organized fundraisers and local businesses to help build a 1,000-square-foot addition to the Rosa family home. It will accommodate Andrew’s lifts, hospital bed, a handicapped-accessible bathroom and a room for nursing care.
This weekend, more than 35 remodeling professionals from the National Association of The Remodeling Industry, NYC/LI chapter turned out to work miracles. By the time they were finished, mass framing, including a new roof, was complete, with all labor and supplies donated.
“We’re ahead of schedule,” said Bob Didier, president of the NYC/Long Island chapter.
Association board member Harris Boshak went to school with Jo Ann Rosa, and sprang into action when he learned on Facebook of her son’s accident. Boshak coordinated with Alure Home Improvements Co. from “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” to facilitate the home expansion.
“We teamed up to bring Andrew home,” Boshak said.
Andrew’s siblings Marissa, 14, and Alexander, 9, miss their big brother, an active young man who was on the travel soccer team at Newfield High School and was a member of the Selden Fire Department Junior Company.
The kids donned hard hats bearing the words “Stay Strong, Andrew” and pitched in to help build their brother’s new room. Marissa Rosa said she believes once home, Andrew will heal more quickly.
“Love is the best medicine,” she said.
The accident has forever changed the Rosa family.
“Seeing my son go to the prom, go on his first date – those things have been robbed from us,” Jo Ann Rosa said. “We are in mourning.”
But most important, she said, her son is alive. After the accident, she begged God, “Just don’t take him.”
Today, Andrew is able to wiggle his toes, move his head, and open one eye. Doctors “cannot give any type of long term prognosis,” Jo Ann Rosa said, adding he is in a persistent or locked vegetative state, where he is semi-conscious but unable to communicate.
But faith keeps Jo Ann Rosa strong.
Despite the pain they have endured, the family’s burden has been lifted somewhat by a community of angels who have turned out to support them in their time of need.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Andrew’s father, James Rosa. “It’s making it easier for us to bring my son home a lot sooner.”
The Rosa family’s goal is to have Andrew home for Christmas.
“We need him home so we can be a family again,” Jo Ann Rosa said.