While serving in Afghanistan, Major Glenn Battchinger had come to know a young boy in need of a unique operation. Bilal was born with his bladder on the outside of his body. The Major was determined to bring Bilal to the States in order for him to undergo this specialized surgery at Cohen Children’s Hospital in New Hyde Park. He was hospitalized for several weeks and among his favorite visitors was the Major himself, just before his next tour of duty was to begin in Africa.
On Monday, March 17, The State Department sent two representatives to Shelter Rock Elementary School to express their gratitude to the school children of Manhasset for all their support, including fundraising and clothing drives. Army Reservist Madera and Donna Clementoni, the Director of Employer Outreach of Employer Support of The Guard and Reserve, came to bestow the honor known as the “Seven Seals Award.”
The plaque read:
“Presented to Manhasset Public Schools for meritorious leadership and initiative in support of the men and women who serve America in the National Guard and Reserve.”
As part of the ceremony, Clementoni presented a short, eye opening, slide show of the story of Bilal and his journey from his life in Afghanistan to his road to health in America.
March 17 was not only a special day for the Manhasset Students, but also a special day for Bilal, who celebrated his unofficial eighth birthday. It was another first for Bilal; without birth records in Afghanistan, children do not celebrate birthdays as we do here. This year he had the chance to celebrate like be a typical (American) eight-year-old. Hard to imagone, but it is a day that may not have come if so many people had not taken the time to care, “one child at a time.”