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Zitelli’s to host fundraiser for local girl

To support a local family, one Bay Ridge eatery is hosting a fundraiser—just in time for the holidays.

Third Avenue eatery Zitelli’s will be holding the fundraiser to benefit Julia Bruzzese and her family on Wednesday, December 16 from 6 to 10 p.m.

Twelve-year-old Julia lost mobility in her legs over a year ago. Months of devastating doctors’ appointments and dead-end diagnoses led to a likely diagnosis of Lyme disease.

“It started with abdominal pain,” explained Julia’s father, Enrico Bruzzese, in September. “We were in and out of hospitals and she was treated with antibiotics for various things. We visited seven different emergency rooms [and saw] numerous specialists. At one point, they even told Julia this was all in her head.”

Eventually, Julia’s symptoms grew to include loss of feeling in her legs, loss of mobility, blurred vision, a stiff neck, back pain, exhaustion and fluctuating body temperature—all symptoms consistent with Lyme Disease, according to Bruzzese.

With many doctors giving the family a run around of different answers, the St. Bernadette middle-schooler found hope after an unforgettable blessing by Pope Francis himself during his New York visit.

Now, the family is gaining hope and Julia’s cause is gaining momentum because of the community’s willingness to help.

“I wasn’t even aware of the fundraiser until it had already been setup,” said Bruzzese of Zitelli’s taking the reins in support of Julia’s cause. “They informed us that they would be throwing the fundraiser for Julia and we were so moved because we’re not accustomed to this sort of thing; people reaching out to us with this overwhelming love and support for our daughter.”

Zitelli’s owner, Domenick Abitino, told this paper that the fundraiser was all in the spirit of giving, and, hopefully, funds will be raised for a family that needs it.

“Hopefully we’ll raise a good amount of money for the family,” said Abitino. “We’re hoping that’ll put them, at least for the holidays, in a good place. We’re trying to do the best we can to help them out and get people in here to donate.”

“We’ve been conditioned to feel alone,” added Bruzzese, “and this is truly amazing. I don’t even know what to say about it. There are some people out there that have wonderful hearts and it has definitely changed me and my perspective of the world.”

Zitelli’s is located at 8530 Third Avenue. The night will include a 50/50 raffle, wine, draft beer and a buffet. Seventy-five percent of the night’s proceeds will go directly to the Bruzzese family. For more information or to purchase your ticket, call Zitelli’s at 718-833-0043.

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