By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A father of seven, Saverio Lacroce has two loves: cars and family.
“When I was a kid, I used to dream of having a Ferrari,” he says. “It took a while, but in 1990 it came to reality.”
Lacroce (second from left in photo) immigrated to the United States from Italy in the 1950s. He worked as a cabinetmaker and ultimately built his own company where he’s seen many successes.
But a major tragedy was the loss of his son, Joseph.
“I lost my son to leukemia at the age of 12,” says Lacroce. “It was always in the back of my mind to do something in his memory.”
So, in 2011, when he got a call from a fellow car lover, Bob Paglione, asking for help delivering toys to children in South Philadelphia hospitals, he jumped at the chance. Carz N’ Toyz was born.
“We started the organization to put a smiley face on sick children,” says Lacroce.
Their goal was to collect 250 toys for children in time for Christmas. In the span of six weeks, they collected 800 toys and held their first “toy run.”
“We met at a restaurant and did a caravan of cars, and delivered the toys with an escort by Cherry Hill police,” recalls Paglione (far right in top photo), who is treasurer of the organization.
In the span of four years they’ve donated thousands of toys and have expanded. Carz N’ Toyz has met with doctors and other medical professionals to determine their needs, and have donated backpacks, medical equipment, and more, totaling roughly $300,000.
“It’s so rewarding,” says Paglione, who used to run a pension consulting firm. He drives his Ferrari or his Maserati in the toy run each year.
Carz N’ Toyz also holds an annual fundraiser, and is expanding to include additional events. The group’s vision is to go big. They want to create some form of in-hospital housing in which parents can sleep with their children while they are receiving care.
It’s something Lacroce says he wanted when his own son was ill.
“I remember when my son was in the hospital, how hard it was,” Lacroce says, “but it makes me happy to be able to do something like this in his memory.”
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