Patient Story

Learning to Appreciate Life


“Coming to The SPOT put everything into perspective.” - Peaches Tutera Cunningham

Peaches Tutera Cunningham and her husband, David, welcomed their son, John David, into the world in 1996. Two short years later, John David was diagnosed with autism.

John David’s condition brought them to Saint Luke’s Hospital The Children’s SPOT. It changed the course of their lives forever.

The Children’s SPOT provides a safe place for children to overcome developmental challenges so they can function at their highest possible ability. John David received therapy from The SPOT every day until he was in first grade.

“If it wasn’t for The SPOT, John David wouldn’t love life, love people, and more importantly—he wouldn’t be able to talk,” said Peaches.

With a team of compassionate speech, physical, and occupational therapists, The Children’s SPOT engages the entire family to help in teaching children and family members to be successful. For Peaches, David, and John David, their care plan pulled in Peaches’ mother, Lucille Tutera, and sister, Connie Mendolia.

“Coming to The SPOT put everything into perspective,” Peaches Tutera Cunningham said. “It taught me how to appreciate life.”

For years, Connie was the driving force behind Once Upon a Time, a fundraising event benefiting The SPOT. Together, the family helped raise thousands of dollars to support scholarships so no child would be turned away because of an inability to pay.

“This event made magical memories that our children will always remember,” Connie said.

Director Jeannette Worthington has been with The SPOT from the beginning, witnessing the incredible contributions this family has made.

“Peaches, Lucille, and Connie were our guardian angels,” Jeannette said. “They came to our aid at the right time and they kept us thriving.”

With their devoted support, The SPOT has grown from serving 10 children in 1980 to more than 250 children every week. Today, John David is a happy-go-lucky artist who lives life to the fullest, thanks to his family and The SPOT.