FBI Volunteers Assist Families in Philadelphia

A group of volunteers made up of current and former FBI employees from the Philadelphia Field Office are dedicated to helping law enforcement families with sick children receiving treatment at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

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Mark Fucci: He had a bad week and needed like five procedures in like two days; four in one day, and then one two days later. But he wasn't doing that well, and she's 1700 miles away, and all she's getting is the information that I’m telling her. You know, I’m emotionally, you know, heightened because of what's going on, and there's nothing that I can do about it. So, she's freaking out more. So, she was just like, “I’ve got a flight up, I’m on my way.”

Title slide: Long before the novel coronavirus upended the world, a rare medical condition upended the lives of Mark and Nicole Fucci.

Title slide: The New Orleans couple's son, Trek, was born with a rare illness, and has been at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) for most of his life.

Title slide: A retired FBI agent began a volunteer effort in 2014 to help law enforcement families like the Fuccis while they are in Philadelphia for treatment.

Title slide: Among the services they provide are airport pickups like this midnight trip to get Nicole, who flew 1,700 miles to be with Mark and her son.

Tom Cotton: We're all volunteers. The majority of the volunteers are all FBI, current FBI employees. They make dinners for the family, if they are staying in CHOP with the child. We do whatever we can. Here I am kind of semi-retired, and I thought this was a great opportunity to give back and to lessen, particularly lessen the emotional trauma and stress that families go through when they're here at CHOP. So for me, this is easy.

Cotton: Yeah, here you go. This is her in the hat.

Hello, Nicole.

Nicole Fucci: Hello.

Cotton: This is a load off of their mind. They don't have to worry about getting an Uber or a Lyft ride coming in this late at night. But, I'm very happy to do this, and it just makes me feel good that I can do something for somebody who, when they have no idea what to do or expect anything to happen for them.

Nicole: Alright, we’ll see you all later. Bye.

Come give me a kiss.

Mark: Okay.

Cotton: Hey Mark, how ya doing?

Mark: Hey.

Title slide: Nicole Fucci, a sheriff's deputy in New Orleans, has been traveling between the couple's home and Philadelphia for more than a year and more than 75 surgeries.

Title slide: Jim Doolin, a retired special agent in the FBI's Philadelphia office, founded Casey's Companions in honor of his daughter, who was treated at Children's Hospital for leukemia before losing her battle in 2013.

Jim Doolin: She was in her senior year of college, she was at St. Joe’s University here in Philadelphia and had spring break, had come home for a couple days and was kind of run down. So mom said, “Hey, why don’t you get checked out and we’ll just do that blood test.” Did some blood work, and the doctor called the next day and said, “You got to go to the hospital.”

So we went to the hospital up there, which is Lehigh Valley. Basically, the doc said, “She’s got leukemia.”

They did radiation, and then we did the transplants. Your body is so beaten up from this stuff it’s going to take you up to a year to recover. And we got her home for a period of time, but there were runs back and forth to CHOP. Then finally they said that she is not going to make it. We’re out of options. So we lost her the following summer. She was 23.

So we said goodbye to her. And my wife said, you know, Casey loved kids. When she was at St. Joe’s University on spring break, instead of going to the beach she would go to the Appalachian Trail and help with the communities and help with the kids. So she always had an affinity for kids, loved being around kids, so we said, you know, we need to give back.

At CHOP, we had a good experience—not a great experience—but we wanted to give back. And so we said, “Well, if you guys want to do something, help us help families similarly situated at CHOP.” So we kind of started off like that.

Title slide: Casey's Companions volunteers have helped scores of families like the Fuccis stay close to their loved ones while they are at CHOP.

Nicole Fucci: There he is.

Mark Fucci: The littlest thing as Mr. Tom picking her up and bringing her is the biggest impact on our lives right now because that's something that we do not have to worry about with everything going on, you know. Because we still have a house, three dogs, vehicles at home.

Nicole: We’re living two separate lives.

Mark: And that one little thing that they’re like, “We’re just going to do this little thing to help them out,” is like major waves on our lives. Positive, obviously. But, so, just that little pick-up and drop-off. Obviously, she enjoys it because Mr. Tom is fantastic. But it helps us out worlds, because we don't have to worry about waiting an hour for an Uber or a Lyft or a cab or stuff like that. So, you know.

Nicole: And it makes it even easier when people like Mr. Jim, everybody. They’ll never know.

Doolin: We’ve met people on our way that say, “You know what, why do you do this stuff?” Or, “You don’t know us; you don’t have to do this stuff.” Well, if I can help the next person make today a little bit better than yesterday in going through this process, I feel that as an obligation.

My wife said—she said it at Casey’s service—that the way she was brought up, her dad said, “If you are in the position to help somebody, you shouldn’t think about it or consider it—you are obligated.” If you can help somebody else, you really should do that.

Nicole: I love you. You’re making me feel so great right now

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