7 On Your Side helps hero cop get new wheelchair for his daughter

TOWACO, New Jersey (WABC) -- A hero Port Authority police officer who once risked his life to thwart a terrorist bombing needed help fighting an insurance company.

It was all to get an expensive new wheelchair for his daughter.

Like most 13-year-olds, Francesca Talamini has hit a growth spurt. She's outgrown her motorized wheelchair.

But when her dad, Victor Talamini, tried to order "Frankie" a bigger one - first, insurance said she's only eligible for a new wheelchair every three years.

"i waited until three years and two weeks and they came with a separate total excuse," said Victor.

Insurance said it already paid for a wheelchair, a manual one.

"She only uses her left arm, she can't move a manual wheelchair because she only uses her left arm," said Victor.

Frankie's dad has battled before. The Port Authority police sergeant took down a terrorist, tackling the man who detonated a pipe bomb inside a subway tunnel in 2017.

His daughter is a fighter too - Frankie and her twin sister Tori were born premature, weighing just over a pound each.

Frankie contracted MRSA in the hospital, a super bug infection which led to cerebral palsy.

"She's a miracle. Truly a miracle," says her mom Linda Talamini.

They have appealed insurance four times asking for a bigger chair. Their pediatrician even stated a new power wheelchair was medically necessary. But all came back denied.

We contacted United Healthcare and the Port Authority. The insurance reconsidered, covering the $15,000 for the motorized wheelchair.

And we were there when Frankie got her new custom fitted wheels.

Thanks to both the Port Authority and United Healthcare who worked together to resolve this quickly.

They covered the motorized wheelchair worth $15,000 instead of the manual stroller that cost a lot less - about $2,000.

And thanks for MLB umpire and New Jersey native Phil Cuzzi, whose charity covered the $2,000 cost for the Talaminis.


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