PITTSTON — Ron and Elizabeth Pantucci’s daughter, Violet, celebrated her 3rd birthday on Aug. 14. She had ice cream and a cake decorated with grazing horses, but most importantly, she was able to spend it at home. Violet’s family spends a lot of time at therapy or in the hospital because Violet suffers from Lissencephaly, or Smooth Brain Syndrome.
“Violet was born healthy—we didn’t know at the time she had Lissencephaly,” Elizabeth said. “In six months she started having infantile spasms, which is a catastrophic kind of seizure, and at that time she was diagnosed. She spends at least a few days a month at CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). She gets tons of different kinds of therapies. Even though she struggles—mainly with the seizures—she’s doing really well.”
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Smooth Brain Syndrome is a rare condition categorized by the absence of normal folds in the brain. Prognosis varies based on the degree of brain malformation, but people with Smooth Brain Syndrome can show progress in their development over time.
The Pantuccis began their journey alone. Elizabeth said they’re private people but, despite their initial reluctance, the Pantuccis opened up when they saw how their daughter affected those she met. They made the decision to share Violet’s story with the world by starting Team Ultra Violet, an online community where people can learn about upcoming fundraisers, donate to help offset the cost of Violet’s medical expenses and to keep track of Violet’s progress through frequent updates.
Team Ultra Violet held a fundraiser in June that Duryea resident and professional wrestler Chrissy Johnson couldn’t attend, so she purchased a shirt instead. Johnson met Violet when she went to the Pantucci’s home in Pittston to pick up her shirt, and that’s when Violet inspired another person.
“As soon as I laid my eyes on her I felt compelled to do something,” Johnson said. “She was just too adorable not to.”
Elizabeth said the spirit of Team Ultra Violet shines when people use their resources — business owners donate items for basket raffles, musicians donate their time — and Johnson is a perfect example of that spirit. When she enters the ring she becomes “Princess” Chrissy Johnson. She is using her resources to help organize Team Ultra Violet’s hardest-hitting event.
“I just mentioned that I was looking for a promotion to help me put on a fundraiser for Violet and ECPW (East Coast Professional Wrestling) stepped forward,” Johnson said. The ECPW will hold an event on Aug. 22 at Queen of the Apostles Parish in Avoca and $3 from every $15 ticket will go to Violet.
This is the first time Laflin resident and professional wrestler Daniel Blaser has been booked on an ECPW event. He’s excited to make his ECPW debut and wrestle for something more than crowd reaction.
“When you’re on the indies you’re not making money, you’re doing (it) just to be entertainers,” Blaser said. “But when you’re doing it and at the end of the day you’re helping people out—that’s just a good feeling to know I’m doing it for a good cause.”
Blaser is a bad guy—a heel—in the squared circle. His in-ring persona, “World Class” Blaze Daniels, lives by the motto “if you’re not cheatin’, you’re not tryin’,” and his tag team partner “The Man” Johnny Moran is just as dastardly. The two will use low blows, illegal holds and general unsportsmanlike behavior to obtain victory over their opponents, but Blaser and his character in the ring are two vastly different people.
“At the end of the day it’s very rewarding to know you can go out there and have a positive impact on the community,” Blaser said. “Especially somebody like a little girl who’s going through a lot. It just means a lot to me to know I can impact in any way I can in a positive way.”
The money raised will help pay Violet’s transportation, medical bills and medication costs and also help pay her therapy fees. She’s currently attending the Serendipity Therapeutic Riding Program at Painted Acres in Greenfield Township, which uses horses to assist patients with special needs in their quest for independence.
Elizabeth said Violet can communicate verbally and through body movements—her communication is limited, but she does what she can. Team Ultra Violet is there so the Pantuccis don’t have to fight alone—now, thanks to Johnson, Blaser and ECPW, the team has some extra muscle.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-704-3943 or on Twitter @TLArts
IF YOU GO:
WHERE: Queen of the Apostles Parish in Avoca
WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 22. Doors are at 6:30 p.m., bell time is at 8 p.m.
HOW MUCH: $15 ($3 of every ticket sold goes to Violet Pantucci). Tickets can be purchased at Queen of the Apostles Parish or at the event.