Cassidy_Spinelli

In This Fight Together: A Mother and Son’s Story of Strength

When Chief Petty Officer Cassidy Spinelli graduated from high school, she knew she wanted to make a difference in the world. She joined the Navy in 2002 as an undesignated airman. Over the next several years and across eight different deployments, Cassidy served in a variety of roles on both the USS Kitty Hawk and the USS Ronald Reagan. In one of these roles, she served as a plane captain, and it was her responsibility to inspect the plane just before it left the flight deck. In 2010, Cassidy transitioned out of active duty and became a Personnel Specialist with the Navy Reserves, a position she holds today.

In 2006, while on active duty, Cassidy had her son, Dante. Dante’s umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck at birth, and he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Doctors also diagnosed Dante with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, chronic asthma and congenital malformation of the nervous system. They informed Cassidy that Dante would require long term care, often with a medical team.

The diagnosis completely changed Cassidy’s life. “You don’t know what you are capable of until it’s your only choice,” Cassidy said. Although she was still on active duty with the Navy, she was fortunate enough to be present for Dante’s many doctor’s appointments and his physical therapy sessions.

As he grew older, it became increasingly difficult for Cassidy to transport Dante in her car. She reached out to a local nonprofit organization in San Diego to request assistance. A retired Marine at Nice Guys San Diego heard her story and recommended she contact Semper Fi & America’s Fund. Soon after, Cassidy was connected with Sierra, who became her case manager at The Fund.

Sierra and The Fund immediately stepped in to offer their support to Cassidy and Dante. One of the first things they did was help Cassidy purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle, so that she and Dante could travel more easily. “It has been life-changing,” Cassidy said. The vehicle has given them the freedom to go places they never thought would be possible.

Since then, The Fund continues to be a large part of Cassidy and Dante’s life. As a single parent without family nearby, Cassidy said The Fund has been her constant source of support. “The Fund is my family,” she said. Sierra sends care packages with items that she’s heard Cassidy mention or that she thinks would be helpful for Dante. “They’re thinking of us in everything they do,” Cassidy said.

Dante is now 14 years old and attends school everyday. He has a bright smile and loves to snuggle and go on walks with Cassidy.

“The Fund has been more than amazing to me and Dante. They have changed our lives.”