New car and new friends make family's Christmas brighter

  From left, Rosie, JoAnne and Bella Colucci pose beside 
  the family's new Chevrolet Sonic, a gift from Chevrolet 
  of Homewood.
(Photos by Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)


JoAnne Colucci was at Chevrolet of Homewood on Christmas Eve to pick up a new car she won in the second annual Homewood Chevy Cares contest, but she didn't want to talk only about the car.

  Chevrolet of Homewood 
  owner Steve Phillippos, 
  right, speaks to staff and 
  supporters of cancer 
  sufferer Rosie Colucci, left,
  whose family was selected 
  to win a new car in the 
  second annual Homewood 
  Chevy Cares contest.

She wanted to talk about how the contest had expanded the reach for her family's story.

The contest, which begins with nominations on Nov. 1, seeks to find a person or family whose life would be changed most by receiving a new car. Nominations are followed by online voting to determine five finalists. One of the finalists receives a free car.

For Colucci, of Palatine, the new Chevrolet Sonic will make a big difference. Her 12-year-old daughter Rosie has been battling brain cancer — and a host of associated conditions and complications — since she was 3. That means frequent visits to doctors and hospitals for expensive, time-consuming tests, treatments and surgeries.

Reliable transportation is a key to treating Rosie's health issues.

But participating in the contest had another effect that may be more important to her family: It helped them spread Rosie's story to more people.

Rosie decided early on that she wanted to make a difference and inspire others, Colucci said. When she was about 4 she started Rosie's Toybox, a drive that provides toys for children who are in the hospital. Because of her own experience with medical treatment, she knew children would benefit from a distraction, something to keep them occupied and happy.

"We do a lot of fundraising for research. We want to fund a cure," Colucci said.

From Rosie's Toybox and various fundraising efforts, Rosie already has many followers and friends online, and that community not only rallied to her cause but helped spread the word that the family had entered the car giveaway contest.

Votes came in from around the world, including Germany, England, Scotland, India and Indonesia.


"It was amazing to see all the connections happen," she said. "Rosie's Facebook page is just blowing up every day."

She said all those new connections help further the mission of inspiration and funding for research.

Tina Lonkar, Chevrolet of Homewood internet sales manager, said there were fewer contestants this year, but voting grew almost threefold, from about 25,000 the first year to nearly 70,000 this year. 

After presenting the new car to the Coluccis, dealership owner Steve Phillippos said the program's name, Homewood Chevy Cares, is more than just a slogan. 

"It's the truth. We believe miracles can happen," he said. "Any time we can help somebody, we do it. We  try to do as much for the community as we can."

He said the gift was not just a one-was street, either. 

"That little girl made my day," he said. "I shouild  thank  her."



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A great community deserves a great newspaper. The HF Chronicle was created in June 2014 as an online publication. In December 2015 we began monthly print publication, too. Our mission is to chronicle the life of our community — news by, for, and about the people of Homewood and Flossmoor, Illinois.


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