North Allegheny teens offer iPads to families staying at Ronald McDonald House


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By the average American's standard, the Delligatti family did enough good for the world when Jim Delligatti created the Big Mac in 1967.

But his grandsons are far from accepting that, desiring to make their own contributions to society.

James, 18, and Christian Delligatti, 16, co-founded the Lilli's Happy Pad project, an initiative that will create alending library for guests of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh. The house, co-founded by the teens' grandfather, Jim Delligatti, in 1979, provides temporary housing to families whose children are receiving medical treatment at local hospitals at little to no cost.

The North Allegheny High School students named the project after their inspiration for the undertaking, their cousin Lilli Curry of Houston. Twelve-year-old Lilli was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in 2011.

While spending time with their cousin, the Delligatti brothers realized how much Lilli enjoyed using her iPad during long days undergoing treatment at a Texas hospital. They thought that guests at the Ronald McDonald House also would like to use the handheld electronic tablets to access email, movies, music, games and other entertainment options during long treatment days.

"We saw how much the iPad has meant to our little cousin and thought it could really change the lives of the people here," Christian said.

At the launch of the program on Thursday, the teenagers distributed the iPads to Ronald McDonald House families and taught young patients how to use the tablets.

The roomful of children and parents filled with excitement as the brothers passed out the tablets. Most children played games such as "Temple Run," while 5-year-olds Quinlan Cullen and Kadince White took pictures of themselves making silly faces using the camera feature.

Quinlan, used to spending long periods in the hospital waiting for her sibling to receive treatment, said she is looking forward to integrating the iPad into her routine.

Shadoe Riley of Owensboro, Ky., said the iPad will help her son Cameron, 3, with his motor skills. Cameron will soon undergo his second liver transplant.

"Watching movies and listening to music are some of the only things he is able to do right now," Ms. Riley said. ". . .It'll really help having his own iPad."

The Delligattis have collected $13,000 thus far from an $8,000 letter-writing campaign and a $5,000 grant from the Snee-Reinhardt Charitable Foundation.

James and Christian purchased 20 iPads and cases, several apps, a charging cart, games and movies. They will continue fundraising to reach their goal of buying 60 iPads -- one for each family apartment at the house. They hope to extend the program to the more than 300 Ronald McDonald Houses around the world.

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Jessica Tully: jtully@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1159.


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