#Focus, #Fight, #Finish.
The mantra that husband, father, son, and coach has lived by. Never in the 30 years before 2010 did Anthony Bullano think he would use these words for a fight of his life, becoming the ultimate role model for the community and family had supported before then.
Since October 2010, the Bullano family realized that Anthony had a heavy chain chromosome muscular disorder (he had it his entire life - Laing Distal Myopathy). This tragic disorder has also affected my two sons, Dylan & Isiah. As many of you already know, Dylan was only able to survive 3 days due to the severity of how it affected his heart at birth; he had 0% blood flow and was immediately put on an echmo machine to help him survive. Due to increased infections in his body Dylan was unable to maintain a healthy enough body to receive a heart transplant and passed away on Nov 11, 2006. God blessed our family a little over a year later with the birth of Isiah, whom we believed to be a perfectly healthy baby. Once I was diagnosed we immediately had Isiah checked and found out the unfortunate news of him to being a carrier of this muscle disorder and his heart was already enlarged twice the normal size; thankfully medicine has reversed Isiah's heart size to normal by age 4 just 2 short years, however, the muscle disease affects him each and every day with weakness and pain.
By June of 2017, the disease progressed worse for Anthony, causing severe muscle pains and weakness; affecting all of his muscles, and unfortunately being the cause for 3 strokes and severe cardiomyopathy, limiting my heart’s output to 10-14% (the normal rate is 55-65%). At one point Anthony had his heart speed up and cause his defibrillator to fire 3 times unsuccessfully, however, by almost indescribable will power, he was able to come out of his incorrect rhythm. #Focus
Anthony entered the hospital the following morning, where he was accepted for the heart transplant program at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. He was able to go in and out the hospital over the next 16 months. On September 11. 2018 his stay was extended in the ICU, and was on the 1A transplant list (highest priority). After 20 days, Anthony had 6 heart matches however none of them were in a condition to be implanted for him; his resilience was tested, but an undeterred Anthony stuck to his plan and made sure that he would be mentally and physical ready when it did come. #Fight
On Sunday Sept 30th @ approx 230 PM, his doctor informed Anthony that the time was now – there was a great match and transplant preparation was starting. For someone as focused and determined as Anthony, this was all according to the plan. The stakes were higher, but it is the same philosophy that he teaches his friends, his son, the kids that he coaches, and the community he leads. Set a goal, make a plan, and execute the plan without distraction. It was time to #Finish.
Anthony in his calm relaxed demeanor began notifying his wife Courtney, family, and closest friend to tell them of the great news. There was a buzz on the ICU floor all day, with all the nurses and staff stopping by, feeling the momentum building, and seeing the sheer determination in Anthony’s face. Anthony was walking the walk, being the best role model that he knew how to be. For a group of 7 & 8 year old baseball players just a short 4 years before, those 3 words resonated – for the same group, now even more powerfully. Coaches Motto: FOCUS FIGHT FINISH… Now one of the most relentless, strongest minded individuals you will ever encounter was leading by example to the kids and parents he connected with during that time.
Later that evening, they finally came in to his room and he was off to the operating room. Anthony is a numbers guy – it seemed more than coincidence that as the 507th heart transplant in the hospital’s history, he entered Room #5 at 0030 on his 7th matched heart since September 11th. True to form, the last thing Anthony heard (at his request) before surgery was Eye of the Tiger (from his all-time favorite childhood movie, Rocky). After an 8 hour procedure, Anthony came through it with remarkable strength, no doubt helped by his determination to stay as fit as he could while in the hospital. After a few rough days during the first week, he began to recovery rapidly and was able to leave the hospital after just 12 days after the transplant. He walked out on his own with his life ahead of him, able to FOCUS FIGHT FINISH his journey that is just beginning. The transplant is over, but there are several more obstacles in his path with rejection, infection around every corner of his life.
Medical bills are piling up; along with lifelong prescription drug costs for the new heart that will continue to hamper the finances of this family, Physical Therapy bill will 5,000 for year #1, even after insurance coverage. The Bullano’s put countless miles on their vehicle as the family shuffled back and forth to try and visit Anthony while keeping the family owned store (named after their son “Dylan’s Den”) up and running on a part time basis to keep at least some income available.
Anthony is one the most generous and dedicated community members especially to the youth SYC baseball program where he serves as VP of Operations, a league umpire, Manager of his son’s team, International Tournament Manager, and travel team Manager. During his recent 34 day stay at the hospital he had several of his young players visit to give him encouragement. Needless to say, they were all so excited to hear when Anthony received his heart match because they knew they were going to have Coach back soon!!!! The Bullano’s friends and family have rallied around them in love, prayer and support. There's been food dropped off at the family business, as well as gift cards and lottery fundraisers. The support has been incredible and the family is appreciative of everything. But we know they need more - now and in the future. There's a long road ahead, and as Anthony continues to improve from his new heart, we hope you'll find it in yours to make a donation to help them in this battle that saved not just a man, a husband, a father, a son, but an invaluable SYC community member. Anthony will continue to practice what he preaches, and follow his plan until he succeeds. But even the proudest and strongest among us need help. Please consider making any type of donation that you can in order to help ease the financial burden on this incredible man and his family.
May God Bless the Bullano Family
DonationsSee top donations
- Shaun Nocera
- Nancy Lopez-Allen
- Carolyn Bullano Johnson
- Earl Copenhaver
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