It was the best Halloween ever for these two Centereach brothers — and it was all thanks to Patchogue’s Angels of Long Island.
Little Tyler and Nicholas Accardi, who both suffer from a genetic disorder that impairs their movements, were surprised with a reverse trick-or-treat on Halloween.
Instead of going door to door for candy, the Angels of Long Island — a non-profit group that runs a thrift and community outreach store — brought a team of cartoons to deliver candy and presents to the two young boys who suffer from spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a degenerative disease that affects voluntary muscle movements.
The angels have been following along with the brothers’ journey through a Facebook page called Nicholas & Tyler’s Fight Against SMA, which is run ran by their mother, Toniann.
“When I was reading the mom’s post, it broke my heart,” said Debbie Loesch, co-founder of Angels of Long Island. “So we wanted to spread a little kindness.”
The Halloween festivities come at a perfect time to lift the spirits of 7-year-old Tyler, who recently underwent the Halo Gravity procedure — a surgery done in an effort to help straighten his spine and prepare him for further back surgery.
The operation left Tyler bedridden for weeks at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.
When he returned home from the hospital late last night, he was excited to dress up in his Skull Trooper from Fortnite (a game he said he’s the best player on Long Island of), and to share candy with his brother.
He wasn’t expecting this.
Starting at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, volunteers came by to visit Tyler and make his Halloween a little less gloomy. Police officers from the 6th Precinct brought treats and the local kids stopped by in their costumes to share their candy. The visits lasted all day long.
Elmo, Big Bird, Dora the Explorer, Scooby-Doo and a dinosaur, all stopped in to drop off candy at his house, instead of making him come out to get it.
“I didn’t expect all of this,” said Toniann. “But we’re so grateful.”
Toniann was nervous for Tyler to return home during Halloween because she knew of his fragile condition and pain, he would have to pass on trick-or-treating this year.
“We probably shouldn’t have come home so early,” said Toniann, “But our team wanted to be together for Halloween.”
So on Wednesday morning, after posting on Facebook that Tyler was coming home, the angels got to work and quickly gathered donations of candy bags, toys, coloring books and treats, all within less of 24 hours.
“Sometimes we take our blessings for granted,” said Loesch. “It just takes a couple of minutes out of your day and a couple of bags of candy.”
Nicholas was also surprised when he helped answer the door to see a giant inflatable dinosaur knocking to get in.
“I thought dinosaurs were extinct,” he said, laughing. “It’s like we won the Halloween lotto! It’s the best Halloween I’ve ever had.”
Although he was tired and in pain, Tyler was smiling and
laughing as the dinosaur made jokes to him, saying he was going to go eat the
Cookie Monster character who tagged along.
“I’m so surprised that they’re here,” he said. “The dinosaur was so big and really funny.”
He was really looking forward to digging into the pile of candy he collected, saying his favorites are candy corn because of the different colors… he couldn’t think of a treat he didn’t like.
Nicholas, however, disagreed. He said that dark chocolate is the worst. “Nobody likes the healthy stuff.”
A GoFundMe is up online to help the Accardi family, since staying with Tyler in the city took a toll on their finances. Tyler has a long road to recovery, but the family is hopeful and happy to have him home for one of his favorite holidays.
Scroll down for photos from the day by Julianne Mosher.