Friends and coworkers camped outside DiLorenzo’s Manhasset hospital, honking and blaring his favorite artist, Billy Joel, in support.
By Michael V. Cusenza
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward.”
If I didn’t know any better, I would have sworn that “Johnny Boy” DiLorenzo—Howard Beach’s very own phoenix who recently rose from the ashes after conquering COVID-19 to be welcomed home Thursday by his beloved South Queens neighborhood—penned those opening words. Not Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky Balboa.”
The past three months of DiLorenzo’s life may sound like the machinations of a schmaltzy Hollywood script.
But it’s true. Every word.
“It was quite comforting,” DiLorenzo, 35, told The Forum of the people and pageantry at Thursday’s reception.
DiLorenzo is still getting used to being back on the block. He spent no less than 59 harrowing days in the hospital, only to be transferred to an inpatient rehab facility that he was forced to call home for another 21 days.
“The only thing I remember is my wife dropping me off at Syosset Hospital emergency room,” Johnny Boy recalled of the beginning of his ordeal, April 1. “I didn’t know it was [COVID-19] until I woke up in Manhasset with all these tubes running in and out of me.”
Doctors and nurses dubbed DiLorenzo “The Miracle of Manhasset” on account of his superhuman recovery ability.
His fight from the brink, however, certainly did not come at a small cost. Johnny Boy lost a staggering 60 pounds over the last 80 days.
But that’s in his rearview mirror now. He’s making it a point to thank all of the friends and family who always kept him at the forefront of their minds and donated food to the hospital staff tasked with taking care of him.
“That meant the world to me,” DiLorenzo said Wednesday afternoon. “I was very honored that all these people would come together at a time of need. I would love to thank everybody from the bottom of my heart.”
That heart. Still beating, louder than ever—for Howard Beach, for his loved ones.
“I want to thank my family for sticking by my side,” DiLorenzo said. “I want to thank my wife, Carla, for being my rock through all of this.”
What’s next for Johnny Boy? More rehab. But he sees the finishing line.
“It’s been a little challenging,” he related. “I’m getting stronger each day. I have a strong mindset.”
Keep moving forward.