Makeover of teen’s room brings him extreme happiness

STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE, 2007-11-08

Argh, matey!
Anthony Parascand’s new bedroom is fit for Captain Jack Sparrow, after a “Pirates of the Caribbean” makeover courtesy of the Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation.

Anthony, 13, and a student at the Hungerford School in Clifton, has T-cell lymphoma, leukemia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and a host of developmental disabilities, including delayed speech and hearing loss.

The foundation stepped in to cheer up the New Dorp teen, whose single mother is also disabled.

In and out of the hospital 34 times over the past year, “He asks every day, ‘Am I going to die?’ ” his grandmother said.

In a little over six hours, a group from the Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation transformed Anthony’s once-bare bedroom into a pirate’s playground, with a fresh coat of pale green paint, a double bed with a pirate sheet and comforter set, a flat-panel TV, DVD player and pirate accessories.

Staten Island artist Scott LoBaido painted a large flaming skull and crossbones on the wall above Anthony’s bed.

On the dresser is a pirate lamp and a pirate piggy bank, which Anthony said he’ll use to save for a trip to Florida. The Atlas Foundation also threw in a check for $500.

“I love it,” Anthony said, as he sprawled out on his new bed, after scoping out all the additions.

“I would love to have given that, but I couldn’t do it,” said Anthony’s grandmother, Rose Parascand, who lives with the family. She was choked up with emotion during the grand unveiling.

“Whatever you give him makes him happy,” she said, explaining how the smallest dime-store toy is always appreciated.

“We’re very privileged that we’re in a position that we can do these small things,” said foundation chairman Teddy Atlas. “It will bring a little bit of relief. A little bit. But at least some.”

When asked why Atlas chose Anthony for the room makeover, he said he was drawn to the teen’s innocence, and how “pirates can make him so happy.”

“He should have what all kids have. He should have a nice bed to sleep on.”

The crew started working at 9 a.m. yesterday, after Anthony left for school.

They were finished by 3:30 p.m. when he returned home.

“I’m speechless. I’m overwhelmed,” said Anthony’s mother, Lisa Parascand.

“All these people came to do this for my son and me. I don’t believe it. I’m in shock, I think.”

Ms. Parascand also was helped by her friend, Aida Picardi, who reached out to close to 40 organizations to seek help for the family.

“You could tell he really was happy,” said Kathy Zito, executive director of the Atlas foundation. “He’s got a tough life, and he doesn’t realize what he’s got ahead of him, thank goodness. It was a good thing.”

After the crowd cleared out, Anthony came back downstairs to ask his mother if, instead of at the dining room table, he could do his homework in his new bed. His two cousins climbed in with him to do theirs, too.

Now if only he can keep his new room shipshape.

Maura Yates is a news reporter for the Advance. She may be reached at myates@siadvance.com.

CAP: ABOVE: Lisa Parascand, of New Dorp, hugs Teddy Atlas after the Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation gives a “Pirates of the Caribbean” makeover to the bedroom of her son, Anthony Parascand, 13, a student at the Hungerford School.

CRED: Staten Island Advance/ Jan Somma-Hammel

CAP: LEFT: Anthony, with his mother and cousins Vincent, 6, and Gianna Drago, 10, rejoices over the transformation of his room, symbolized by the skull and crossbones painted over his new bed by Staten Island artist Scott LoBaido.

Anthony also got a flat-panel TV and DVD player from the foundation.