dom's early CHILDHOOD years
7/18/86 - Dom was born at McKeesport Hospital. He was the first child of Anthony and Nancy Pantoni. 2 years later, Dom's brother Vinny was born.
1989–1996 - When Dom was growing up, between the ages of 3–10, Dom and his brother were inseparable and did everything together. As a young child Dom was fascinated with garbage trucks, and Nancy remembers taking the boys in her car and following the trucks around the neighborhood every week for years. Dom also had an interest in fire trucks, and Nancy would take him to the fire house regularly, and sometimes the firemen would let him sit in the truck As Dom got older, he developed an interest in video games and would regularly play them with his brother. Dom and his brother also loved going to the neighborhood parks, Nancy would take them quite regularly, visiting every park within a 20-mile radius of their home. Dom was in little league baseball for a couple of years and was a good hitter for his team.
DOM'S adolescent years
1996–2004 - Dom loved animals, and he received his first cat when he was 12 years old. His Dad had rescued the cat, and the family named her Zazoo. Dom loved her very much and misses her desperately. One of the highlights of Dom's life was when Zazoo had kittens. Dom was so excited and loved to watch the kittens play together. Dom had a couple of good friends in his neighborhood, and they enjoyed playing baseball at the neighborhood parks. Nancy would drive Dom and his friends there regularly. Dom enjoyed Kennywood (amusement park) and Sandcastle (waterslide park) and had season tickets to each. Dom got into WWF wrestling and watched it often on TV. He attended live wrestling shows regularly as well. Dom developed an interest in playing the lottery and would spend many hours configuring lists of number combinations that he thought could be winners. Occasionally, Dom would win a couple hundred, and he would brag for months to family and friends.
dom's young adulthood
2005 – Dom graduated from Langley High School in 2005. His school helped him secure his first job at Giant Eagle in Parkway Center Mall, where Dom worked as a bagger for two years. He was praised by many for doing a good job there. Dom got his second job at Kuhn's Market on Banksville Road, totally on his own, and his parents were so proud. He bagged for them for approximately two more years, making many friends during his time there.
2006 – As a young adult, Dom started developing behavioral and mental health issues – caused by his genetic disorder. These issues were mild at first but worsened over time.
4/2009 –Dom is evicted from the family’s home after he started having temper tantrums that resulted in the destruction of property. The upstairs neighbor called the landlord after Dom damaged her front door, and the landlord informed Nancy that Dom could not live in the house anymore. The support coordinator from Family Links did not give adequate emergency support when needed and did not return Nancy’s calls for weeks at a time. Eventually, Dom was put into temporary placements, which were inappropriate to his age and needs. The placements were in facilities with profoundly lower-functioning people and with seniors in assisted living centers. As a 23-year-old young man Dom felt so uncomfortable and alienated in these settings that he would run away after a day or two.
5/2009 –Nancy and her ex-husband, Tony (Dom’s father) get Dom his own apartment in Brookline, PA. The family would take shifts checking in on Dom, and bringing him food. Dom also had a case worker from Resolve Crisis checking in on him weekly during this time. But Dom did not feel comfortable in his Brookline apartment due to someone in the neighborhood harassing him. His parents decided to remove him from the apartment due to safety issues—Dom’s inability to care for himself and neighbors harassing and taunting him.
6/2009 – With no other support available from Family Links, Nancy’s family put Dom up in a motel and again took shifts to check on Dom and provide food. After several weeks, the family ran out of money to keep Dom housed there. Leslie Levkulich from Family Links suggested that they get a guardian for Dom through JFCS (Jewish Family & Children’s Service), who could get him placed somewhere immediately and keep him there with staffing. In crisis mode and under duress we accepted this offer, to prevent Dom from being homeless.
7/2009 – A hearing was held in front of a judge for Nancy’s family to petition for a guardian. Prior to the hearing, Nancy told the case manager from Family Links that she only wanted a temporary guardian appointed until Dom’s *consolidated waiver was approved. She explained that Dom was on a waiting list for the waiver, and that once it came in, it would offer him (and the family) much more support. Nancy was told there was no such thing as temporary guardianship and later found that to be untrue. She was told at that time that she would have liberal visitation with Dom, be involved in the decision-making process, and be kept informed about all medical issues. This never materialized. Nancy was only permitted one visit with her son once a month and was permitted one phone call a week.
2/2010 – Nancy hired Attorney Paula Rule and began working with her on the guardianship case.
7/2010 – After about a year, Dom became very unhappy at the group home, as the guardian started placing more and more restrictions on Dom and the family, making Dom feel like he was "in prison." Dom began consistently begging his mother to get him out of the group home.
1/2011 –After working with Attorney Paula Rule for almost a year, Nancy let her go to pursue a different strategy.
10/2011 – The guardian restricted Dom from any and all contact his mother. Nancy contacted Director's Action Line, State Representatives, the Office of Intellectual
Disabilities, the Mayor, a Senator, the Justice Department, and advocates from Achieva.
Nancy became very concerned about Dom’s health and well-being, realizing that he had a steady diet of fast food and processed microwaved food. Dom had gained 80 pounds since moving into the group home. Nancy insisted that Dom be evaluated by two independent Integrative doctors, and this was allowed at that time. These doctors determined Dom to be: malnourished, overweight, and diabetic in addition to suffering from kidney disease and tardive dyskinesia, which is often permanent and debilitating. The doctors diagnosed Dom to be in poor health overall. *Letters from these doctors coming soon!
These doctors prescribed supplements to Dom that would offset his poor diet and curb his current medical conditions. But the guardian discontinued these supplements after 6 months, against the advise of the Integrative doctors who had evaluated Dom, even though Nancy offered to pay for the supplements herself. Nancy observed that Dom's health had been more stable while taking the supplements, and he appeared to get worse and develop new ailments after the supplements were discontinued.
Nancy believes that Dom is not receiving the appropriate medical care for his rare genetic disorder and is prevented from seeing the specialist with knowledge about Deletion 22q. Dom appears to have developed new, debilitating and potentially life-threatening medical conditions (malnourishment, diabetes, kidney disease and tardive dyskinesia) while under the guardian’s supervision. If Dom's kidneys get any worse, he may end up needing dialysis for the rest of his life, or worse. Nancy believes that an appropriate and timely intervention could potentially reverse Dom's current state of poor health and potentially save his life.
Another concern for Nancy is that Dom is being given flu shots, tetanus shots and boosters for measles, mumps, and rubella, in spite of her warning them that Dom has had SEVERE ANAPHYLACTIC REACTIONS to vaccines in the past! Dom had such severe reactions from these shots in his childhood that Nancy had to call 911! His reaction included hives, difficulty breathing, and severe head and body aches. Unfortunately, Nancy cannot produce Dom’s childhood medical records, since the doctor has long since retired, and his office didn’t keep any records more than ten years old. But Nancy believes that her word, as Dom’s mother, should be good enough in this situation.
2/2012 - Nancy hired an attorney, Al Bowen, out of concern for her son’s safety and well-being. She paid the attorney $12,000 dollars from her life's savings. But after more than a year's time, there was still no progress in the case, and Nancy wasn't any closer to regaining guardianship.
4/9/2013 – Nancy received the horrid news about Dom's advanced kidney disease and went into "warrior mommy" mode. She desperately started calling anyone and everyone she could think of, including the Deletion 22q organizations. Jewish Family & Children's Service (JFCS), as Dom's legal guardian, started getting calls from these organizations and advocates. As a result, JFCS started complaining to Attorney Bowen.
6/2013 – Attorney Bowen informed Nancy that he was resigning from the case.
10/19/12 –Dom's father (Nancy Pantoni's ex-husband), Tony Pantoni, loved Dom so much that he couldn't bear to witness his son's heart-wrenching suffering anymore, and tragically took his own life. Tony's final wishes were for Nancy to never stop fighting for Dom, and she is committed to honoring those wishes.
8/2013 –Due to Nancy’s continued efforts to report the guardian’s mismanagement of her son’s care, the guardian opted to set up a conference in front of a judge, attempting to permanently ban Nancy from her son Dom’s life. The judge overruled this request, demanding that the guardian allow Nancy to see her son. Nancy now has one hour of supervised visitation per month, but no phone calls are permitted. She still has no say in any decision-making in regards to Dom’s care, and is not kept updated on any arising health issues. Nancy is not even told when her son is hospitalized!
8/31/13 –Nancy's friend, Eddie Matetic, was a participant in the North Course Challenge Power Walk in Westlake, Ohio, where he won first place. He decided to walk this year in honor of Dom, and he designed and made a few special commemorative t-shirts, featuring Dom's face on the front and back. Eddie wore the shirt at the event and was featured in an article in the local newspaper. Through his efforts, he helped raise awareness of Dom's situation and of all people born with Deletion 22Q Syndrome. Eddie is committed to helping Dom and presented Nancy with two hand-made t-shirts he had made for the event–featuring a photo of Dom on the shirt (one for Nancy, and one for Dom)!
12/2013 – Nancy is seeking a new attorney to help her regain guardianship over her son. Nancy has already spent her entire life savings on previous legal battles and therefore hopes to do fundraising to raise the money to pay a new attorney. Nancy will not give up on her mission to save her son’s life, and end his chronic despair and suffering in his current living situation.
03/2014 – Nancy hires Attorney Matthew Lovewell to represent her. He brings renewed hope to the case, but fundraising is needed now more than ever to pay Mr. Lovewell's legal fees, as Nancy seeks increased visitation with her son, and medical evaluations of Dom by independent doctors of her choosing, which will hopefully lead to the appointment of a new legal guardian in the future. http://www.alleghenyprobate.com/ 03/2014 – Nancy is interviewed by Halle Stockton of PublicSource.org regarding Dom's situation and her legal case. We are still awaiting notice of the article's publication, but will post a link when it's available.
05/02/14 – Nancy's attorney, Matthew Lovewell, filed a petition in March 2014 to request increased visitation for Nancy Pantoni with her son Dominic Pantoni. (Currently Nancy is only permitted to visit with Dom ONE HOUR A MONTH!) A hearing was held on May 2, 2014 with Judge O'Toole. Mr. Lovewell had requested on multiple occasions prior to the hearing that the guardian, Jewish Family and Children's Services, bring Dominic Pantoni to the hearing, since the outcome would affect him. Mr. Lovewell felt that Dominic Pantoni had a right to be there, but the guardian failed to bring him to the hearing. They also failed to return multiple voice messages left by Attorney Matthew Lovewell asking for Dominic to be allowed to attend the hearing.
Testimony began with Dominic Pantoni's physician taking the stand. After a few initial questions, Mr. Lovewell asked Dominic's doctor if there was any reason why Dom couldn't be in court, and Dom's own doctor said, "No." When the doctor acknowledged that there was no reason (physically or mentally) why Dom could not be there, the judge STOPPED the hearing, ordered both parties to set a new date for a new hearing, and INSTRUCTED Jewish Family & Children's Services to bring Dominic to the next hearing! A SMALL VICTORY FOR DOM! We were so happy that the judge AGREED that Dominic had a right to be at the hearing.