Julia Giammona calls herself a “warrior,” and she undoubtedly is.
When she was a baby, her parents noticed that she could not move her arms or legs. They found out that their daughter had been born with cerebral palsy, a condition characterized by impaired muscle coordination and function, and frequently joined by other disabilities, as a result of brain damage at birth. Doctors told them that Giammona, who grew up in Bensonhurst, would never be able to walk, and that she would be wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life. Her parents tried to find a way to help their daughter and searched extensively for an answer.
The Giammona family’s prayers seemed to be answered five years later when they discovered a program called Euromed in Poland. It consisted of intensive physical therapy for eight hours a day, six days a week. This lasted for an entire month. It appeared to be working, and Giammona returned each month for the next four months.
“Physical therapists there helped me learn how to walk, something doctors here in America told my parents I would never be able to do,” Giammona said.
The program was successful in taking the young girl out of her wheelchair and allowed her to walk with crutches. Of course, packing up a whole family and transplanting your life to a foreign country is not easy, nor is it cheap.
Giammona still works incredibly hard – meeting with her physical therapist multiple times a week, and graduating from St. Francis College in 2016 with a degree in communications. With her degree, she hopes to work in broadcasting.
“Having cerebral palsy has taught me no matter what you’re faced with in life you can achieve anything as long as you put your mind to it and believe in yourself,” she said. “And although life is tough you just have to keep fighting.”
This also means she wants to do something that most other young adults want to do: drive. Due to her condition, Giammona needs special modifications made to her car in order for her to drive it safely. An organization has been incredibly generous, and is willing to foot the bill for the modifications needed, which cost anywhere from $70,000 to $120,000.
However, to get the funding, Giammona needs to purchase a new van before March, 2017. If not, the funding from the organization will be lost. To make that happen, her family is hoping to raise enough money for their daughter’s new van, and is asking the community for its help.
Giammona is hopeful, and wants others to be as well.
“Whatever obstacle you are faced with, you should never give up and keep fighting to overcome it,” she said.
A benefit dinner to raise money for the van is being held at Mama Rao’s (6408 11th Avenue) on February 22 at 7 p.m. All donations are welcome, including cash, checks, gift certificates, baskets, etc. Every dollar counts. Tickets for the benefit are $75, and should be purchased in advance as none will be sold at the door. Please R.S.V.P. by February 15. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Mary Cumella at 347-223-1040.
A GoFundMe page has also been set up. As of this writing it has raised $2,550 of its $30,000 goal.
If you would like to donate to the online fundraiser, visit gofundme.com/julias-car.