Community supporting family burned out of home

Niveyah Colantuono in the power chair she lost in a fire in the Warwick family's home. (WJAR)

The community is rallying around a Warwick family burned out of their home. The Colantuonos have been living in a hotel since the April 10 fire at their Country Club Drive home.

Their most significant loss was a $20,000 power chair used by their 9-year-old daughter, Niveyah, that the third-grader used to live more independently.

"All of the things she did, like go up to the water fountain and turn it on, bringing her paper to the front of the classroom like all of the other kids, going to the front of the classroom and grabbing the lav pass," said Maya Colantuono, Niveyah's mother.

She tried to go back into the house and save the chair from the fire.

"I was nervous, I was trying every way to move it and then the flames shot up the wall next to it and I had to go," said Colantuono.

With the help of an iPad she uses to communicate, Niveyah told NBC 10 News that she was "afraid" the day of the fire and "sad" to see her chair destroyed by the fire.

An online fundraiser started for the family is raising money to help them purchase a new power chair for Niveyah. Now that they have the opportunity to start fresh, Colantuono said she is hoping they can raise enough money to get an even better chair than the one she had.

Niveyah's physical therapist has said she will benefit from a chair that will allow her to stand, to relieve some of the pressure of constantly sitting.

"If we can get her the sit-to-stand chair, it would be like a gift out of all of this," said Colantuono, who added the family has been overwhelmed from all the support they're receiving.

"People are what matters, not stuff, and we realize how many people there are who care about us, who love us, who we love," she said.

Niveyah said she has only one request of her new chair, that it is "pink."

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