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Community Supporting Man Debilitated by Severe Flu-Like Illness

Emily Progin, PR and Communications Coordinator / 800.642.8399


“One Day He Was Walking – The Next Day, He Was On a Ventilator”

East Haven, Conn.—Two years ago, loving East Haven husband and father Mario Belli contracted a severe and debilitating flu-like illness. As a result of the diagnosis, he lost the cognitive capabilities that allowed him to walk and use his hands. Overnight, he and his family’s lives changed—today, they are fighting to help Mario regain his independence and mobility with help from their loving community and the national nonprofit Help Hope Live.

In March 2020, Mario’s fight began. “One day, he was walking,” explained Mario’s daughter, Angela Belli-Infante. “The next day, he was on a ventilator.” His sudden, flu-like illness struck before the days of common COVID-19 testing, which means medical professionals have not been able to pinpoint COVID as a definitive cause for his health challenges.

Prior to 2020, Mario was a fixture in the East Haven community. He is an avid member of the Italian American Club of East Haven, Club Napoli, and San Cataldo Society and a frequent visitor to Liuzzi’s Cheese Market, Lorenzo’s Ristorante Italiano, and Anthony’s Ocean View. A mason by trade, Mario was an avid gardener in retirement often spotted at local home improvement stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Tractor Supply Co.

His family’s dream is simple: to give Mario as much mobility and independence as possible: “We want him to feel like he is a part of a community once again.” That journey includes extensive occupational therapy to help Mario’s mind and body re-learn how to walk, use his hands, eat and drink, and grasp objects on his own.

To access this care, they need to cover countless out-of-pocket medical expenses. That’s why they turned to the nonprofit Help Hope Live to start a tax-deductible fundraising campaign at:

Unlike a GoFundMe, Mario’s Help Hope Live campaign is medically verified, and funds raised are fully administered by the nonprofit to pay for only medical and related expenses. The funds raised will not jeopardize Mario’s eligibility for state benefits like disability or Medicaid.

Help Hope Live is a national nonprofit that specializes in engaging communities in secure, tax-deductible fundraising campaigns for people who need a transplant or are affected by a catastrophic injury or illness. Since 1983, campaigns organized by Help Hope Live have raised over $165 million to pay patient expenses. ###

Written by Emily Progin