Rosie's Toy Box: Palatine teen battling brain tumor honored for charitable work

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A battle with a brain tumor has not stopped a young girl from spreading love to others. Rosie's Toy Box collects and distributes toys to kids stuck in the hospital fighting battles of their own.

Rosie Colucci, of Palatine, is 60,000 toys in and making Chicago proud.

Just one donation at a time, Rosie has already spent a decade of her young life giving to others all while fighting a battle of her own.

"When she was first born, I noticed these spots on her. Just these brown discoloration on her skin. I thought, 'Oh, it's just a birth mark,'" said JoAnne Colucci, Rosie's mother.

Rosie was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis, or NF, genetic disorder that causes tumors to form.

"I didn't hear anything after they said she had an incurable brain tumor. Their mouths are going and you're just like a deer in headlights. You aren't hearing anything they're saying. Your whole life just changes overnight," Joanne said.

With this battle came constant hospital stays and a total of 31 surgeries. Fifteen of them were brain surgeries. During her stays, Rosie was constantly showered with more gifts and love than she could manage. So, she said, "Why not share that love with others?"

"What keeps me going is just to fund-raise. I love giving back. Giving back just really helps me and that makes me feel like I want to give back even more. I also have to believe in God and the power of prayer. That really also keeps me going," Rosie said.

Her prayer and pay-it-forward attitude has taken her from age 4 to 14. It has even allowed her to be honored with the state and national Prudential Spirit of Community Award.
"(The) Prudential ward means a lot to me because that is the highest level of volunteerism that you can get," Rosie said.

The 14-year-old continues her battle and plans to continue collecting toys. She has this simple advice for other kids that may be struggling out there:

"Just know that there is going to be light at the end of the tunnel. Don't give up. There will be a cure. Just keep fighting," Rosie said.

Rosie has a toy drive going on now. She'll be at Wildberry in Schaumburg from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday and she hopes to see you there.

Due to infectious disease control standards and immuno-compromised kids, all toy must be new. To find out more, visit

Rosie also organized a team for the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation's 5th Annual A Walk for the Bear, which will be held in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood on Sunday, Oct. 21.

Her team name is "Rosie's Rockstars." To make a donation or join the team, CLICK HERE.

For more information on the Prudential Spirit Award, click here.
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