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Mom of stricken teen said employer bending over backward

Pamela Tonini was blindsided when a trip to the emergency room to have her son’s abdominal pain assessed turned into a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis.

One thing that eased her stress was the response of her employer, United Safety Services of America, on Main Street in Butler.

She said Kearsten Ihlenfeld and Dane Patricelli, the brother and sister duo who own and operate USSA, told her to take off as much time as she needs during the diagnosis and treatment of her son, Nick Iman, 18.

“They said ‘Do what you have to do. It’s your baby,’” Tonini said.

She said Ihlenfeld and Patricelli even took the initiative to start an online fundraiser for the family.

“The GoFundMe allowed me to live up until now,” Tonini said.

Ihlenfeld said her first thought when she heard of Nick’s diagnosis was her own children and how she would feel if she had to deal with one of them having a significant illness while she was working every day.

“I didn’t want her to worry about work, and worry about her baby,” Ihlenfeld said. “I don’t want her to have to walk away from her child to go to work.”

Her brother agreed, and said the online fundraiser was a no-brainer.

“I didn’t want her to have to worry about financials, or anything like that,” Patricelli said. “I wanted to put her mind at peace so she could give Nick her full attention.”

Ihlenfeld added that Tonini’s position as an insurance agent specializing in Medicare will be held for her for as long as it takes to get her son out of the woods.

“Our main goal is we just want her to be there for him,” she said.

Patricelli agreed, and hopes the larger community will rally around Tonini and her son until he’s well again.

“That makes these dark moments more bearable,” he said.

To donate, log onto gofundme.com, search Kearsten Ihlenfeld, then click Nicks Fight.

Nick’s father and stepmother, Steve and Jen Iman, of Renfrew, have also started a fundraiser. To donate, visit gofundme.com, search Rachel Olean, then click Nick Strong.

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