LOS ANGELES (WCMH) — At first glance, these two seem like an odd couple.
Chris Salvatore, 31, and Norma Pattavina, 89, are best friends and roommates. They live together in Los Angeles. They’re not related by blood, but they do consider one another family.
As NBC News reports, Salvatore and Pattavina were neighbors, and grew to be close friends.
“I thought he was beautiful,” Pattavina told NBC News.
Almost 5 years ago, Salvatore knocked on her door to say hello. He told TODAY that Pattavina offered him some champagne (her favorite drink), and they sat down and talked. They connected right away.
When Pattavina was diagnosed with leukemia, she didn’t have any family to turn to. Salvatore, an actor, said he wanted to step in.
He turned to social media to raise money for his friend, who needed expensive treatments and round-the-clock home care. He shared photos and videos of the two of them, with the hashtag #MyNeighborNorma.
People donated about $50,000 to pay for Pattavina’s care. When the donation money ran out, Salvatore asked her to move in with him.
“She couldn’t be happier that I asked,” he told TODAY. “I was over there visiting most days anyway.
“The only other option was for her to go into a facility. I just couldn’t do that to someone who is like my own grandmother.”
Pattavina told TODAY that Salvatore cooks for her, and that the two spend a lot of time watching the news. “We mostly talk and drink champagne and eat peanuts,” she said.
Salvatore said he wanted to assure his best friend that she would never be alone again.
“As much as I’m here helping her, she’s helped me tremendously,” Salvatore told NBC News. “It’s really brought me back to what’s important. Family, love, human kindness.”
The GoFundMe is still active, for anyone who wants to donate.