A Seaford woman is on a mission to help three special individuals close to her heart who are not in position to help themselves.
Karen Siler’s brother, Michael Russell, who lives in a group home in Glen Cove, has Down Syndrome and was recently diagnosed with Leukemia. Siler’s son Ryan has Autism and is ready to live independently, but needs to be close to his family and friends. The home of Siler’s good friend and neighbor Laura, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, is in foreclosure proceedings after she was abandoned by her husband.
Siler said she and her husband Allen are planning to make an offer to purchase Laura's home out of foreclosure and hope that Ryan and Michael will move into it together with her dear friend remaining to provide them overnight care. New York State would then continue to provide the necessary supports to avoid institutionalized living.
In order for Siler’s vision to become a reality, she needs to raise enough money for down payment assistance and some repairs to the home that she hopes “will forever be open to individuals with disabilities.” Siler is organizing a fundraiser at in Wantagh on Oct. 18 called “Karen’s Hope” with proceeds going toward her vision to improve the lives of her son, brother and dear friend.
"This is really a perfect case scnario," said Siler having her brother and son living in a happy home environment with her longtime friend. "I have all the right players to make it work and it's just a matter of purchasing the home."
Siler has been an advocate for special needs individuals since she got a scare on Oct. 6, 2009 when her then 19-year old son Ryan went missing for six hours while on a bus route to his job at Long Island Gymnastics Academy in Bellmore, before being spotted by a good Samaritan in Port Washington. Following this ordeal, the Seaford resident began working with police to make sure police had proper training and resources to locate missing children who suffer from cognitive disorders like Autism. She helped spearhead an effort to have the Nassau County Police Department launch a Return Every Adult and Child Home program and a registration event for the new initiative at in November 2010.
Siler said she hopes the arrangement of having her son and brother live in a comfortable and structured home setting can serve as a model for other familes to address relatives with disabilities rather than relying on group facilities.
The Oct. 18 benefit scheduled to last from 6:30-10:30 p.m. will feature an open bar, food, disc jockey, performance by stand-up comedian Rob Cividanes and a Chinese Auction. A live auction will also be hosted by Seaford resident John Theissen, founder of the Wantagh-based .
For further information on the fundraiser or how to donate, contact Siler at 516-698-9291. For a link to a donation page set up by the Disability Opportunity Fund, click here and sslect Karen's Hope under program designation.