WALLINGFORD — When Tim O'Brien, a Nucor Steel Connecticut employee, found out last month that his son has a rare, inoperable brain tumor, his coworkers immediately rallied around him.
“The kindness and the generosity of the teammates here is unbelievable,” said Angel Cyr, Nucor human resources coordinator.
O'Brien, 35, works as the mesh maintenance lead at Nucor, 35 Toelles Road. He and his wife, Marissa O'Brien, 32, live in East Haven. Six-year-old Trenton is their only child.
Trenton has diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a type of brain stem tumor.
Marissa O'Brien, a licensed practical nurse at Branford retirement community The Hearth at Gardenside, said that the people at Nucor “have been wonderful.”
Cyr said there have been “several different fundraising efforts at the plant,” led by Tim O'Brien’s coworkers on the floor.
“Nucor has been supportive of all those efforts,” Cyr said. “It’s just really beautiful to see them support Tim during this difficult time.”
Tim O'Brien’s coworker, Dan Trickett Sr., organized a fundraiser dinner for the family, slated for 4-7 p.m. Sunday at the East Haven Riverside Volunteer Firehouse, 82 Short Beach Road, East Haven.
Trickett, an operator at Nucor, is a volunteer firefighter. He drew on his experience organizing fundraisers for the firehouse in the past.
“It’s just something I felt I should do,” he said. “I know the family is struggling, and I have a 5-year-old myself. Putting myself in their shoes, I couldn’t just sit by.”
Trickett also organized a visit by firefighters to Trenton’s home on July 9, bringing an engine for Trenton to explore. Firefighters even helped him spray the fire hose.
“Just to bring a smile to his face,” Trickett said.
Tickets are $15 per person, at the door or online through Eventbrite. The menu is pasta, meatballs, salad and dessert.
“Out of 160 people who work at the Wallingford plant, a good delegation will be at the dinner Sunday,” Cyr said.
Trenton, who loves Pokémon, had just completed first grade when he fell ill on June 19 and was brought into the Yale-New Haven Hospital emergency room for an MRI, which showed a malignant growth.
After a successful biopsy procedure, Trenton was able to return home after four days in the hospital.
The course of treatment is currently seven days a week of radiation using a pinpoint radiation mask for five weeks. After the radiation is completed, doctors are looking to possibly get Trenton into a clinical trial in hopes of a better outcome, Marissa O’Brien said.
Trenton currently needs assistance to walk, and the thought of returning to school “is (still in) the future,” she said. “Sometimes children with DIPG have a honeymoon period after radiation and get some mobility back, but some children don’t.”
Other ways to give
For those who can’t make the dinner, there are other opportunities to get involved. The Momauguin Elementary School PTO set up a drop box for cards at 338 Coe Ave., East Haven.
There’s a GoFundMe page for the family’s medical bills, a fundraiser in Trenton’s name to benefit DIPG cancer charity The Cure Starts Now, and a Facebook page for Trenton.
The GoFundMe page had raised more than $10,000 from almost 200 donors as of Tuesday afternoon.
“My family and I are beyond humbled by the outreach from our friends, family and our community,” Marissa O’Brien said.