Bottle It Up: Westbrook family raises money for cancer research by cashing in recyclables

By: Sarah Cody - Posted: Apr 16, 2018 10:02 AM EDT

OLD LYME, Conn. (WTNH) - When the Scotella brothers are at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding in Old Lyme, they forget their neurological condition that causes constant fatigue and they simply enjoy themselves.

"Outside of their home, this is their peace," explained mom Jennifer Curley, as the boys bond with the horse at the healm of the carriage they're operating.  "They can get on a horse and have relationships with the horses and the people here.  It really warms your heart."

"I always look forward to coming and I’m so happy afterword that I came," says Matt, age 15, big brother to twins James and Andrew, both 13. 

After Matt's teacher died, he founded an organization called Bottle It Up, to raise money for cancer research.  "We were very close so I wanted to do something in dedication to her," he said. 

But, several years later, the effort took on new meaning when cancerous tumors were discovered in Matt's brain.

"You don’t think about what’s going to happen tomorrow or next week, it’s what can we do now," said dad Peter Scotella with emotion. 

As a distraction, the family kept collecting recyclables and cashing them in, involving the community and large companies. 

To date, they've raised $18,000 for Smilow Cancer Hospital.

"It gave them a voice - a chance to channel that energy into something positive," said Jennifer, motioning towards her three boys.

"I’m so proud of myself, my family and the people who’ve helped us with Bottle It Up," said Matt.

The Scotellas take lots of pictures, live in the present and keep perspective.  They focus on making a difference with a simple concept. 

"One nickel at a time," said Jennifer.  "We’re going to cure cancer with a nickel."

On Saturday May 5th, the Scotellas are hosting a two-mile family fun walk in Westbrook to raise money and awareness for Bottle It Up. 

Copyright © 2017, Hartford Courant

     Bottle It Up!     News Interview