By Michael V. Cusenza
For promoting awareness of pediatric stroke and providing programs for victims and support for their families, the Julianna Rose Children’s Foundation was recently honored by State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach), who presented a Senate Proclamation to the group’s founder, Mary Rinaldo Hansen.
“This proclamation is important because we aren’t just changing my life, we’re going to change thousands,” Hansen said.
The Howard Beach nonprofit organization was established in 2006 and named after Hansen’s daughter. According to Hansen, in May 2002, “after almost a year of unanswered questions and concerns about [Julianna Rose’s] development, we received confirmation that our beautiful, happy bundle of joy in fact had suffered a left and middle cerebral arterial infarction—a stroke—either before, during, or sometime after birth; and was the cause of her hemiplegia cerebral palsy, early childhood seizures, and global developmental and learning delays.”
According to the Monroe Carell, Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University, a stroke is a brain injury that happens when blood flow to part of the brain is disrupted. The brain needs oxygen to survive. When blood is not flowing properly, brain cells do not get oxygen and they begin to die—which is what causes the symptoms associated with the stroke.
The Hansens organized the foundation to “help other families and children,” Mary said.“We operated as a family-run, self-funded, grass-roots organization whose mission was simply dedicated to raising awareness and educating about pediatric stroke, cerebral palsy and all pediatric brain injury causes, effects, co-occurring conditions and the importance of physical therapy for recovery and continued maintenance.”
According MCCH, about three out of every 100,000 children will have a stroke before the age of 18. In newborns, 25 out of every 100,000 have a stroke.
“Seeing how Mary and her husband Jeff turned a difficult situation into an opportunity to help others is extremely inspiring,” Addabbo said. “Instead of focusing on their own troubles, they used Julianna’s condition to help spread awareness about childhood strokes, and their organization has expanded to offer programs for not only childhood stroke victims, but to help set up children with disabilities for a fulfilling future. It is my honor to present Mary and the Julianna Rose Children’s Foundation with a Senate Proclamation for their dedicated work to the community.”
For more information on pediatric stroke and the foundation, visit juliannarosefoundation.org.
By Michael V. Cusenza