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A Real Family Reunion in Time for a Wedding

April 04, 1986|Gary Libman | Gary Libman.

Joel Willis of Annapolis, Md., came to Los Angeles a few days ago for his sister's wedding. He had a brief problem at the airport, though, because he didn't know what she looked like.

Willis, 21, and his sister Debra Vitello, 24, and brother, Robert Vitello, 22, had been adopted by different families 20 years ago in Virginia.

Debra and Robert traveled around the country a lot because of their adopted father Patrick's Army career, and had no idea where their brother was until they wrote last year to the adoption agency and asked about him. The Vitellos have lived in Beverly Hills for eight years.

For his part, Willis did not know his brother and sister even existed. He found out in February.

"Robert and I have been talking on the phone almost every night since I found out," Willis said. "And Debbie said 'Come out here and be in my wedding.' It was really exciting. I got off the plane and I was looking around for the family. Then someone said my name. I turned around and right away recognized my sister. Robert got off his plane from Florida about an hour later and I recognized him, too."

Willis said he plans to move to Florida this summer to live with Robert, who just graduated from the University of Florida and will become a stockbroker in Miami.

"I'll try to come back here at least once a year to visit," Willis said. "I felt really at home with the relatives here. Everyone was so open and receptive that I felt like part of the family. It's like having a second home and a second mom and dad. This whole thing is something you don't see every day.

"I didn't get to spend much time with Debbie because of all the excitement of the wedding," Willis added. "It think we had a chance to talk a grand total of 20 minutes to half an hour. But I promised her I'd come back to visit."

The Magic Egg

Third-graders at the Westminister Elementary School in Venice have been writing stories about "The Egg and I."

They're not talking about the Marjorie Main movie of the same title. They're describing an egg one of the students stood up on its end near the front of their classroom on March 20. On Thursday it was still standing.

Teacher Nellie Slaton said the students originally stood the egg on the floor as a science experiment. Now other classes are coming through the room to look at the egg, which she has barricaded with chairs and tables.

"The children are amazed," she said. "They call it the magic egg. A boy sitting near it fell this morning and toppled his chair. Everybody inhaled and held their breath, but the egg didn't fall."

A Medical Export

When a Shanghai doctor and two nurses finish studying at Downey Community Hospital in a few months, they hope to introduce physical and occupational therapy to China.

Dr. Xu Li-Gen and nurses Yang Xiao-Hong and Li Zhen arrived Dec. 15 to study for six months at the hospital's hand clinic.

They have spent eight hours a day watching technicians make plastic splints as well as patients' rehabilitation through macrame, art and mechanical work.

"In China," Li said, "the doctor sends the injured person to a technician to make the splint. It may not be very comfortable, and the patient doesn't like it.

"Maybe the doctor follows up in a month. In the meantime the doctor doesn't have a clear picture of whether the patient is wearing the splint or following exercises.

"In America," she said, "the physician sends the patients to a therapist who works with the patient's hand to determine what kind of splint would be effective. The patient will visit a therapist three times a week during rehabilitation.

"Our mission is to go home and initiate that kind of system."

Children Teach Children

With the major league baseball season just days away, the Little League is using children to teach other children how to play the game.

The vehicle is a new video featuring all-star Little Leaguers from Union, N.J.

"You've got little squeaky voices teaching little squeaky voices to play ball," said Richard Stadin, owner of MasterVision of New York, which produced the film.

"The kids teaching are 8-12 years old, and I think it's easy for other kids to identify."

Filmed last summer, the 70-minute video, available for $39.95 in video stores, starts with fundamentals and shows how to hold the ball and wear a baseball glove. It also demonstrates hitting, pitching and fielding techniques.

A coach tutored each player for several days before the video was made.

Medic Alert in L.A.

This July, 63,000 Angelenos who wear Medic Alert bracelets or necklaces will be able to visit Medic Alert Foundation International's first Los Angeles office.

More than 2.3 million people worldwide wear the bracelets or necklaces bearing the caduceus--the medical symbol of a winged staff with a serpent wrapped around it--between the words medic and alert.

Each bracelet or necklace contains emergency medical information, a personal identification number and a hot line telephone number to Medic Alert.

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