By Katie Fehlinger


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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Our tenth annual Ronald McDonald House Charities Telethon is next Tuesday as we will be raising money to help the families of children who need medical care. Sometimes families find unexpected gifts at the Ronald McDonald House. For Nicholas Stickel, Cecily Quackenbush and their moms, Christine Weidman and Tracey Hanak, unexpected tragedy brought them together.

They say laughter is the best medicine, and for 8-year-old Nicholas and 16-year-old Cecily, it’s what is helping them stay positive.

(credit: CBS3)

“Nicholas was diagnosed with a rare tumor in his spinal cord,” said Weidman, Nicholas’ mother.

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“They informed us that she had a brain tumor,” said Hanak, Cecily’s mom.

It was a nightmare that would require a long stay for both children at Nemours/AI duPont Hospital.

“I just saw what an amazing mom she was and gravitated towards her,” said Weidman.

It was across from each other at the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware where a friendship formed that would change all of their lives.

“Most people think that we’re sisters,” said Weidman. “We both believe in God and I can’t help but think God had something to do with our relationship.”

Both women are supporting each other through the ups and downs.

“Having someone to kind of go through it with you, side-by-side,” said Hanak.

Also side-by-side, and always holding hands, are Nicholas and Cecily.

“I remember the first time I met her she couldn’t even talk at all and now she can talk a lot,” said Nicholas.

The infectious laughter reminds them that they’re not alone.

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“I understand what he’s going through because I’m going through it too,” said Cecily.

“She’s doing a lot of progress,” said Nicholas.

Each of them are the other’s biggest fan.

“They’ve become like family,” said Cecily.

On the day CBS3 visited, it was a milestone for Nicholas that was bittersweet for the newly-formed family.

“I’m gonna miss him a lot,” said Cecily.

Nicholas had just graduated the pediatric comprehensive outpatient rehab program.

“They left yesterday, but it’s fine. I’m so not crying,” said Hanak.

And after their final game of Uno, when the cameras stopped rolling — or so he thought — Nicholas approached Cecily to wish her luck on the rest of her journey in rehab.

As Nicholas left the house and was loaded into his van, he left a Ronald McDonald House that’s filled with a whole lot of love.