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Christmas Tree Sales Benefit Elmwood Park Boys Battling Rare Disease

Justin and Jason Leider of Elmwood Park are battling Hunter syndrome.
Justin and Jason Leider of Elmwood Park are battling Hunter syndrome. Photo Credit: Jeff Leider

ELMWOOD PARK, N.J. – When Jeff Leider brought his family to pick out a Christmas tree at American Nursery in Fair Lawn on Sunday, they got an early Christmas surprise.

“I was in total shock,” Leider said, when he learned the nursery was willing to donate 10 percent of the sales of Christmas trees toward helping his sons, Jason, 10, and Justin, 7, both of whom are battling Hunter syndrome, a rare genetic disease.

Those who want a portion of their purchases to go toward the cause should mention Jason and Justin or the Let Them Be Little X2 Foundation, Leider said.

For three years, the boys have been taking part in a clinical trial, where they receive special enzymes to help them survive, Leider said. The Elmwood Park family spends a week each month in North Carolina, where the boys receive their treatment.

During that time, Leider, who owns a landscaping business, and his wife, Deena, a teacher in Garfield, cannot work. “It gets quite expensive. It runs us typically, with lost wages and expenses to get to North Carolina, $2,200 extra a month,” Leider said, adding, “Every little bit helps when it comes to fundraising.”

“Everything that goes on in our world is always times two,” Leider said. “Two boys that are sick, two boys that need a bag of candy, two boys that need a pull-up on. … Everything is doubled.”

Leider said his sons are doing well in the trial, but the treatment still must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Most with Hunter syndrome live into their teens.

“We try to be as strong as we can for the boys. We don’t let it consume us,” Leider said. “But it is a battle. It is a struggle every single day.”

He said people like the owner of American Nursery help them through. “Thank God we have people like Gary amongst others that do whatever they can from their hearts for us to make our day a little bit easier,” he said.

American Nursery is at 5-16 Saddle River Road in Fair Lawn.

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