Torrington friends, family raise $15K for woman with ALS

TORRINGTON — Hundreds of guests turned out July 30 for a spaghetti dinner, raffle and auction held to raise money for a handicap van for a local woman with ALS.

So far, the fundraiser for Richelle Roman Lovato, who was diagnosed seven years ago, has totaled about $15,000, and donations keep coming.

“It was an awesome night,” said the event’s organizer, Virginia Cianciolo, a Torrington native who now lives in Missouri. “There was never a slow moment, and there was a crowd all night.”

Cianciolo and Lovato both attended Torringford School as children. Cianciolo said she was bullied as a child because of her thick glasses, and that Richelle never picked on her. She never forgot it, and after reconnecting with Lovato at their high school reunion, found out about her friend’s diagnosis.

Lovato’s parents, Joanne and Richard Roman, are in their 70s and are their daughter’s primary caregivers, along with her sister, Kimberly, and her daughter, Jordyn, 16. The family gets some assistance from a CNA and nurses who come to her home daily.

Having a vehicle to easily move Lovato into and transport her to doctor appointments and other activities will make a big difference, her mother said.

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

Along with tickets for the dinner and bids for a silent auction, with many gifts donated by area residents and businesses, Jordyn made handmade bracelets and collected $285.

“If people would still like to help out they can send the money to Richelle’s mom, Joanne Roman, 84 Revere St., Torrington 06790,” Cianciolo said.