I’m madder than the custodian on Noah’s ark who was responsible for cleaning up after the elephants and ostriches over the fact that my beloved meringue classes were held last week on the rainiest day of the century, forcing me to ride my trusty steed Tornado through the torrential downpours, and leaving me wetter than that time I almost drown in the tub in Atlantic City!
Look, you all know the ol’Screecher will do anything for his students and in the name of art, so it should be no surprise to you that a few inches of rain will never stop me from performing my duties as Stepmaster General. But even I was surprised that on that very rainy day, a baker’s dozen of my students turned up at the class, forcing me to drain the water from my shoes and get to work. Which I happily did.
That brings me right to the reason for this column, about a mysterious note that was slipped under my door recently that read, “Dear Carmine, I seem to have lost the numbers to all of your six cellphones. Came to see you today with a question, you’ve helped in the past with my daughter Julia Giammona. If you could please call me, Roseann.”
Well obviously, she was a satisfied customer (as they say,) and the name “Julia Giammona” sounded vaguely familiar. Of course, along with elephantitis of the belly, I’ve also got elephantitis of the brain, and it instantly hit me that Julia was the little girl that had to go to Poland to get medical treatments like 20 years ago. So I gave her mom a call and she told me that I had hit the nail on the head. We all braved the rain to catch up on Julia’s progress these past 10 years.
Now, I don’t need to tell you that every cloud has a silver lining, and Julia and her mom were mine. Julia is a pretty young girl with an angelic smile that dazzles you. Like me, she uses a wheelchair, having been born with cerebral palsy. We chatted for a while before Roseann realized that she left a column I wrote about them 10 years ago out in the car. Before I could stop her, she ran back out into the rain to bring it in. It was totally wet and I will quote from it to describing Julia’s medical odyssey, written before I had an editor that understands me.
“Julia is a a six-year-old student at PS 226. She is child who is doing something she has never been able to do before; thanks to physical therapy treatments she received in Poland she is now able to bend her legs, stretch out her arms and thumbs and get down on her knees. Ordinary simple body functions that this child is now only able to do at the age of six. An American child having to go to Mielno, Poland, because this treatment is not available in the United States. Isn’t that a shame? Here we are living in the greatest and richest country in the world the United States of America and we can’t provide medical treatment for some of our own kids!
“Julia undaunted says, ‘I was lucky to receive one month of physical therapy and guess what? I was finally able to bend my legs, stretch out my arms and thumbs as far as they could go and get down on my hands and knees. I have not been able to do that for six years. But, I would really like to do things other children do. Unfortunately, my Mommy and Daddy need help to make a return trip to Poland so they can help me make my dream come true, that someday I will walk.’ ”
As you can imagine the cost involved was phenomenal and I won’t venture to give you figures that today costs millions. But I would like to say that I’m proud of the way the Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, and Gravesend communities mobilized with fund-raisers from many groups, individuals, organizations, schools, churches, and businesses to help the Giammona family and their pride and joy.
Julia now attends Saint Francis College where is the editor-in-chief of its newspaper. I wish this column came out before Mother’s Day, because I wanted to nominate Roseann Giammona as “Mother of the Decade!”
Julia and her mom, dad, and siblings make an incredible family.
Screech at you next week!