The Sorbelli Family, dad and mom Wayne and Jamie, 13-year-old Leela and 10-year-old Nicky, used to sit on the other side of the fundraising table, helping local families out when they could and attending benefits for others. But, things changed when a mosquito sized bite wouldn’t go away on Nicky’s body. Months later, the diagnosis came back — T Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma.
“I’ve never been a part of a miracle before,” said Wayne, owner of Island Guitar in Key West. The Weekly spoke with him on the telephone between Nicky’s tests and PET scans at Miami Children’s Hospital. “But when the people of Key West think about Nicky, the room lights up and so does he.”
Wayne could be speaking metaphorically about positive energy, but it has a more worldly explanation, too. His phone does light up continuously with texts from locals reaching out with positive messages as Nicky undergoes his treatment on the mainland.
Wayne said his son told him that this has been the best year of his life, despite all of his adversities, Nicky feels the love from his friends and family. On the heels of that statement, though, Nicky worried that such the sentiment might make his mom Jamie cry.
Although the family was in Key West over Thanksgiving, Nicky just started another aggressive six-week round of chemotherapy. “I think people thought he was better, because we were home. But the reality of it is we are just starting up again,” said Wayne. His immune system is so fragile, traveling was a scary thought.
The family will miss the reggae festival fundraiser being held at Shrimp Road Grill on Sunday night to benefit Nicky. “Our food bill alone is $1,000 a month,” he said. “Nicky is very sensitive. It’s hard enough to get a 10-year-old to eat his vegetables, but a lot of times the food here at the hospital upsets his system. Sometimes we go through several different entrees just trying to find one that he can handle.”
And the family’s stay on the mainland makes it hard to tend to their livelihood — selling instruments and teaching music lessons from their storefront in the Kmart shopping plaza. “You really don’t realize what you have until you go from not being needy at all, to not having any money,” he said.
Sorbelli added that although the times are tough, there are tons of people helping behind the scenes. “I can’t thank Louie C. Rock, Niceness, and Shrimp Road Grill enough for doing something like this for us – it goes beyond a family, and takes a village. It’s a longtime local family helping this family.”
Getting slightly choked up over the phone, Wayne added how appreciative he and his family are. “Key West is the best place in the world,” he said.
The fundraiser “Reggae on the Rock” is being held Sunday, Dec. 20 from 5 to 9 p.m. at Shrimp Road Grill on Stock Island. The event is free, but there will be a donation box at the door going straight to Nicky’s fund. Family friends will be on hand selling Nicky’s “Kick Cancer’s A**” shirts and bumper stickers. (Clearly, Nicky is true to his rocker roots.) The five-piece reggae band Niceness will perform.