Everyone knows medical care can get expensive. But for some families, things can begin to seem insurmountable.
The Schuller family of Brick knows what it's like to face challenges in that regard, but thanks to the help of Brick's police department and generous residents, parents Marylou and Corie can rest easier for a little while.
Two of the couple's children, Alexis, 13, and Georgia, 4, suffer from cystic fibrosis, a chronic genetic disease that affects the lungs, pancreas, liver, and intestines, causing severe life threatening infections. Their son, Hudson, 6, has been diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow in the brain, nervous system, spinal cord and nerves.
The family has experienced mounting medical bills in recent years, and their health insurance policy alone costs about $25,000 per year since Corie operates his own construction business and must buy his own private policy.
Marylou, meanwhile, cares for their children on a daily basis.
So a "helping hand" in the form of a $25,000 check from the Brick Policemen's Benevolent Association Local 230 on Monday represented a much-needed relief.
The money came from funds raised during the PBA's annual Helping Hands benefit basketball game where township police officers face off on the court against members of the Brick Dragons football team.
The game was held in March this year.
"It will definitely take some of the burden off," said Marylou Schuller, who added the warm winter kept all of her children healthier than normal in recent months.
Corie Schuller said his wife's days are often filled with medical visits, shuttling the kids to various activities and administering medicine when necessary.
The extra funds will go towards that massive insurance bill, as well as added-on costs such as co-payments, equipment and medication.
Alexis, Georgia and Hudson were all in good spirits for a ceremony at the township municipal complex on Monday, dutifully lining up - all smiles - to shake hands with the police officers who organized the event and confidently introducing themselves to everyone in the room.
"They're a joy of a family to work with," said Brick Police Officer Rick Nelson Jr., the primary organizer of the basketball game and fundraising effort. "It was a fun time, and we all had a blast putting it together for the Schuller family."