WESTBROOK – “You learn to adjust. You find the bright side of it,” says Peter Scotella of the last year’s isolation with three medically fragile teens. The family has made the most of it…enjoying each other over music and a unique form of recreation.

“Peter bought an old run-down golf cart and re-did the whole thing top to bottom,” explains mom Jennifer Curley. “It’s red white and blue and gorgeous! They cruise around the neighborhood.”

“It’s almost like a meditation with my eyes open, kind of,” says 18-year-old Matthew.

The three boys, who all suffer from a neurological condition that causes constant fatigue, were also able to return to High Hopes Therapeutic Riding.

“Interacting, seeing people, riding horses which we love that,” says 16-year-old Andrew, sitting alongside his twin brother, James.

“It’s my home away from home,” says Matthew.

But they had to pause a passion project:

“Matthew had a teacher that passed away from cancer, he took it very hard,” says Curley, explaining why, in 2012, they formed Bottle It Up, cashing in recyclables to raise funds for cancer research.

Then, the mission became very personal.

“It grew some traction over a year or two, then, lo and behold, Matthew was diagnosed with brain cancer,” says Curley.

After a year’s hiatus, the can drive will be back this spring, a hopeful feeling of normalcy for James, Andrew and Matthew, now cancer-free.

“Now, more than ever, we need to raise awareness for cancer because everything is surrounded by Covid,” says Matthew.

“As of today, we’ve raised over $71,000,” says Curley, noting that all funds are donated to Smilow Cancer Hospital.

A simple idea from a true team that looks at life one day at a time, with an enormous amount of perspective.

“I’m grateful every day,” says Curley with a smile. “I tell the boys every day there is a reason to be grateful every single day.”

The Bottle It Up drive takes place at Westbrook Town Hall from May 30 through June 5. You can also redeem your own recyclables and contribute via voucher in the mail.