‘A cheerful kid, very smiley’
Local resident establishes fund for child with disability
by Art Schwartz
Reporter staff writer
Apr 06, 2014 | 1501 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
John Zero
‘AN INSPIRATION’ – John is always smiling.
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John Zero is 12 years old. He was born with cerebral palsy. John is quadriplegic and uses a wheelchair. He needs your help.

John’s parents have cared for him over the years in their Moonachie home and transported him in their car for medical aid and wherever else was necessary. Until recently, he was light enough for his mother to carry and place in the vehicle.

Since he is growing up, that has become impossible.

That’s where Barbara Musarra-Tulko, a Weehawken resident who is a friend of the family, comes in. She recently took it upon herself to set up a page online to raise funds to address this problem.

“John’s devoted family needs a wheelchair equipped vehicle,” the page reads, “but there simply are no funds available for this, due to other extraordinary costs of raising and caring for John.”

The goal is to raise $25,000. The page can be found at http://www.gofundme.com/7h9yfk.

‘He is an inspiration’

“John was born two or three weeks premature,” said his father, Sam Zero. “When he was first born they didn’t notice, but he was always crying, so I took him to the doctor. The doctor didn’t like what he was seeing, so he did some tests.”

“They found calcium deposits on his brain,” said John’s father. “They call it IUGR.”

According to webmd.com, “Intrauterine Growth restriction (IUGR) refers to a condition in which an unborn baby is smaller than it should be because it is not growing at a normal rate inside the womb. Delayed growth puts the baby at risk of certain health problems during pregnancy, delivery, and after birth.”

“He doesn’t talk,” said Zero. “But he lets us know when he’s hungry or thirsty. He understands. We have a way of communicating with him.”
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“Every day he wakes up smiling.” –Sam Zero
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Zero said his son is “a cheerful kid, very smiley. Every day he wakes up smiling.”

Tulko agrees. “Despite his physical obstacles, this blessed boy smiles at everyone who speaks a kind word to him. I fell in love with him the first time I laid eyes on him and knew I had to do something to help him enjoy his life even more and be safer when being transported by his Mom. He is an inspiration.”

“When I’m stressed out, I see him and I say, what do I have that’s worse than he has?” said Zero. “He teaches me how to relax.”

How to help

Sam Zero and his wife are also raising two boys younger than John. Both are healthy.

John attends the Children’s Therapy Center in Midland Park, where he receives physical therapy. He takes the muscle relaxer baclofen every day.

“We’re trying to buy a handicap-access van with the ramp, the tiedowns,” said Zero. “But vans run almost $60,000. I’m in the construction business. I can barely make ends meet. I’m struggling.”

Seeing their plight, Musarra-Tulko, who is also a local real estate agent, established the fundraising page on her own to help them out.

“One day I’m on Facebook and I see a picture of my son and I click on it,” said Zero. “And I see Barbara set it up. She’s a sweetheart of a lady. I thank her.”

As of press time the page had raised just over $10,000 toward the goal of $25,000.

“Let's join one another and help a hard working NJ family,” said Musarra-Tulko on the page. “All of the money raised will go directly to the cause (unlike so many charitable causes that have more than 50 percent of the monies eaten up by administration costs).”

Contributors receive rubber wristbands imprinted with “I helped to make a difference in a child’s life” as a token of appreciation.

To contribute, visit http://www.gofundme.com/7h9yfk.

Art Schwartz may be reached at arts@hudsonreporter.com.

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