Lindsey Seavert, KARE The Christmas spirit went "viral" for a Waconia family whose toddler is fighting brain cancer.
Victor "Vito" Skaro, who turned 15 months old on Christmas Day, received thousands of letters and gifts from across the country.
A family friend started a Christmas card campaign for Vito and his three brothers after the Skaro family learned they would have to spend Christmas in Vito's hospital room. The family moved to Minnesota from Chicago a few years ago, and it would be the first holiday spent away from family.
After a simple wish for Christmas cards was put out to the world, the Skaro family had no idea what would be in store.
"We got mail, we got lots of mail," said Nicole Skaro, Vito's mother, showing a box brimming with letters. "He's such a strong soldier with a smile, that's amazing, and his true desire to live - it's something that touches everyone."
The stacks of cards came from as far as Maine, Wyoming, Texas and Florida and filled the family's post office box many times over. The letters kept coming, until there wasn't an inch of space left on the walls of Vito's room at Children's Hospital Minneapolis.
One child sent Vito one of her favorite stuffed animals. Kindergarten classes and schools nationwide sent loads of decorations. Families sent prayer cards and photos. The Minnesota Wild hockey team even sent gifts. Several superhero capes and personalized stuffed animals also arrived along with dozens of gift cards. His story spread even further on news websites like NY Daily News and Today.com.
"That is the definition of Christmas spirit, people you don't know reaching out to you and in a time of need and saying Merry Christmas and you'll get through this," said Nicole Skaro. "It's a long journey and you feel so alone sometimes just to know people are thinking about your kid and sending prayers and positive thoughts. That's what touched me the most."
Vito was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, an aggressive and fast growing brain tumor this past August. His ever present smile earned him a nickname of "Valiant Vito." Vito also is known for his collection of superhero capes that showcase his strength. Skaro said Vito was overjoyed even battling a fever and infection on Christmas Day he received each gift with a smile.
"Vito would look at each one he'd read it and either hug them or kiss them and put them down and pick up the next one, it was absolutely wonderful to watch," said Skaro.
On Dec. 31, the family will find out whether Vito's chemotherapy is shrinking the tumor or if they will have to consider radiation, which is risky for a child his age. But, the outpouring for Vito reminded the Skaro family that miracles happen."
"This is what we are going to focus on, we are going to focus on the love that was shared with our family because that is what is going to carry us through," said Skaro.
It's not too late to send cards, gifts or donations to Matt and Nicole Skaro, Vito, and his three brothers, sons, Dominic (8), Vinnie (2) and Luca (2 months). Vito's condition has made it difficult for Matt and Nicole to work steadily. Matt is an Air Force Reserve civilian with the 934th Airlift Wing in Minneapolis and Nicole is a Waconia realtor.
Send "Valiant Vito" cards to:
P.O. Box 293
Waconia, MN 55387
Follow his journey on the Valiant Vito Facebook page, or to donate to the family, visit Vito's fundraising campaigns at Go Fund Me site or Give Forward.