Best friends since fifth grade, Laura Ruffino and Elizabeth Diamond have always been there for each other. And so when Diamond was diagnosed with stage IV brain cancer in August of 2014, she asked her long-time confidant a question no mom wants to ask: if Ruffino would be willing to adopt her four daughters if she died. Ruffino, married with two daughters of her own, immediately accepted.
“As she started to weaken you can imagine the fears that I had for the girls and being without her,” Ruffino told WKBW.
Sadly, Diamond passed away in April of 2015, at only 40 years old — and Ruffino made good on her promise. She and her husband Rico, along with their two daughters, welcomed Diamond’s four little girls (Tara, Samona, Ella, and Lilyan) into their home with open arms.
Before she passed away, Diamond had co-founded a local, holistic non-profit called The Buffalo Wellness Center. When the Ruffino family of four suddenly doubled in size, the nonprofit stepped in to help, organizing a local fundraiser that will take place at the end of August. (There is also an online donation platform here.)
Because of their new charges, the Ruffinos need more space, more furniture, and more money. The Ruffinos will use all the funds raised to contribute to their new daughters’ care, including dietary needs, activities (like their dance classes), and home improvements, like converting their garage into more bedrooms. A bigger table with four more chairs and a larger fridge have already been donated to the family, and they are hoping to purchase a vehicle that’s big enough to accommodate all eight family members at once.
Their online fundraising efforts have proven staggeringly successful so far, with $86,614 of the $100,000 goal already raised at the time of this posting.
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“Ten years ago, I didn’t think this would be my life,” Rico Ruffino told WKBW. “But if something gets thrown at you, just accept the challenge and do the best you can.”