It can be so hard to miss school for an illness. You feel behind on work and you wonder what your friends are up to during the day. But in one incredible story, a Long Island teen undergoing cancer treatment back home is able to communicate with his classmates during the day—via a robot.
William Reccoppa, 17, was diagnosed with leukemia last May and has been unable to attend St. Mary’s High School in Manhasset. But thanks to technology and his community, Reccoppa is able to experience high school in a cool, new way.
“It’s really unique to have him as a robot. Everyone thinks it’s really cool. Everything thinks it’s really freaky. It gets the whole student body excited,” Maria Reccoppa, William’s twin sister, told CBSN New York.
“We all get to be together again, even if it is our virtual way,” Maria added.
“Being in the hospital five months getting treatment, it’s great to finally have an almost normal school life,” William said.
“We’ve been praying and guess what? He’s getting better,” Principal Gerard Buckley said. “William will be back, but in the meantime, he’s here with us virtually, and the students went into an uproar when the robot came rolling out.”
During his treatment, William spent months in the hospital and then was isolated at home. It was hard to see classmates. He was lonely.
“You don’t expect your life to kind of change that quickly,” William said.
The $6,000 robot was donated by the Don Monti Foundation. William operates the robot remotely from the family’s Bayside, Queens apartment. It acts as his eyes, ears, voice, and hands.
“It has lifted his spirits, as well as ours,” William’s parents Joseph and Maria said.
“It’s amazing because before this I knew my classmates and faculty were always supportive and loving, but I never really expected this much and am so grateful,” William said.
Now, William has a fresh outlook on life. He is still feeling the effects of his treatment, but he is thinking big. He says he wants to graduate on time and eventually attend NYU. He can definitely put extensive experience with robotics on his application.