NEW CITY, N.Y. - When 10-year-old Skylar Handsman wrote a letter to Westrock Pools in Nanuet, she didn’t expect anything to come of it.
“I thought well, I can write them a letter. But I was like, it’s a long shot,” she admitted, sitting with her family on their deck this past Friday afternoon.
In the letter she explained how her father, Alan, has terminal cancer. A volunteer firefighter with the New City Fire Department, Alan was diagnosed with multiple myeloma last November.
Alan is a plumber by trade and had retired from the Thruway Authority but was working for a private company when he received his diagnosis. Because their father couldn’t work, his daughters Skylar and Jade thought this would translate to more time at the Clarkstown Town Pool with their dad.
But after undergoing a stem cell transfer Alan was told he must avoid being exposed to bacteria in public places; places like a town pool. So, Skylar got the idea for the letter.
“I want to give my dad this gift. Please help me make his dream come true for us. I know and heard people donate dreams all the time!. Will you help me?” Skylar wrote. She included that she had $925.73 and offered to set up a payment plan.
Her older sister Jade edited the letter before it was sent during the July 4 weekend. Neither one said a word of it to their parents.
A week later the girls got an answer.
On Sunday morning Tara Handsman answered a phone call. On the other end of the line was a man who said his name was Andy Bari with Westrock Pools. He asked for Skylar.
There was some initial confusion; Tara didn’t understand why a man was calling for her 10-year-old daughter. Bari explained that someone in the house named Skylar had been reaching out to him. Tara asked her daughter if she had tried to contact someone from Westrock Pools.
“She grabbed the phone and ran in her room,” Tara said.
Bari said he was donating the family a pool and he wanted them to come by their store so he could meet Skylar. In addition to the pool, Bari and co-owner Bob Ball have managed to have Rockland Tree Company donate their services and take down a couple trees to give the pool more sunlight, and Bilco Electric to electrical work.
Westrock will also provide pool maintenance for life, Tara said.
“It’s just overwhelming that somebody could be so generous. The generosity he has shown my family is just incredible,” Alan said. (The girls call Bari and Ball "Uncle Andy" and "Uncle Bobby.")
The family summarized what it’s been like having the new pool with one word—“great.” Tara admits she can’t get them out of it, including Alan. It’s a chance to be a family and spend time together.
The Handsman are big believers in paying forward, whether it’s donating to a charity or putting someone else's ice cream on their tab without them knowing. But this gesture seems to be exempt from that notion.
“You can’t pay this forward. All you can do is thank God,” Tara said.
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