A van for Gabbie

Posted 4/5/22

LIBERTY, NY — Gabriella Rose Lisacchi was born on April 21, almost 13 years ago this month, with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) type 1, a rare genetic muscular disease that has no cure.

She …

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A van for Gabbie


LIBERTY, NY — Gabriella Rose Lisacchi was born on April 21, almost 13 years ago this month, with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) type 1, a rare genetic muscular disease that has no cure.

She came into this world at a healthy six pounds, 13 ounces.

But then at the age of about four months, things started to go terribly wrong for the little girl and her parents Christina Marie Lisacchi and her father Anthony Lisacchi, a local plumber by trade.

Gabbie was having a hard time breathing, started to wheeze and cough, couldn’t hold up her little head while struggling for the very breath of life.

At first, her folks were told not to worry, things would be OK.

But Christina, a certified nursing assistant knew something was wrong, terribly wrong.

The family lived in Roscoe at the time, and when Gabbie was two years and three months old, she awoke from a nap and couldn’t breathe; all the monitors recording her heartbeats registered zero, and the little girl began turning blue.

“She crashed, she was down for about 10 minutes without oxygen by the time the medics got here,” recalled Christina, who started basic life support as soon as the alarms hooked up to her daughter’s equipment alerted her to the life-threatening emergency.

After initiating CPR, “Suddenly, I gave one hard thrust to her chest,” Gabbie’s mom recalled. And all the while she thought, “God, please don’t take her, it’s not her time... and then her heartbeats and oxygen levels started to come back.”

After rushing her to the Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center, Christina and Anthony were told Gabbie had SMA, a deadly medical condition. Most patients die as infants and toddlers, with an 80 percent chance of dying at the age of one year, while the majority of the rest pass by the age of two.

For the next two months, Christina never left her daughter’s bedside, until the family returned to a world forever changed.

Beating the odds on a disease for which there is no cure, Gabriella Rose, also known lovingly as “Boo Bear” and “Gabadoodle,” needs constant care around the clock, 24/7, including having fluid buildup in her small trachea suctioned out at her home, a procedure that prevents Gabbie from choking to death in her specialized recumbent wheelchair.

“This disease has taken everything away from her body, it deteriorates every muscle in the body, the ability to smile,” said Christina, proudly adding that her miracle child has attended Liberty Elementary School since the first grade, where she routinely makes the principal’s and star students’ honor rolls.

Today, Gabbie communicates using a state-of-the-art eye-gaze device attached to her mobility chair, but until just recently she depended upon a broken-down handicapped van to not just broaden her horizons, but more importantly to get her to doctor’s appointments.

The problem is that the old 1991 Ford E150 gave up the ghost in their driveway after its last outing; they had to jump-start it in front of a local pharmacy while on a mission to get Gabbie her COVID-19 booster shot.

“We’ve invested almost $11,000 in it, but it has electrical problems, the ramp gets stuck,” said Christina, adding that on what proved to be its final journey, the old rusted-out vehicle “kept shaking and stalling out... we literally almost didn’t make it home from two miles away.” The motor may be dead.

Faced with the stark reality that Gabbie desperately needs a new ride, her parents finally located a 2014 Ford E350 handicapped van at a dealership near the city, and put down a deposit of $6,000—“everything we had saved up”—until they could come up with the rest of the money, without going broke and still have enough cash to buy Gabbie her expensive supplemental foods.

“We are looking for any donations to help with the costs of purchasing the van ($17,455), or as much as possible towards it... if we can even reach close to $5,000 or more in donations, it would be less that we have to finance at a higher rate, and lower the monthly payments,” explained Christina.

These are Christina Lisacchi’s hopes for Gabriella Rose on the eve of her 13th birthday, and as she embarks on her teenage journeys.

“Keep living strong, keep fighting through every obstacle in her life.”

How to help

To learn more about Gabbie, or to donate and make her life so much easier, and let her be part of the community again, message Christina Marie Lisacchi directly on Facebook; on Paypal at chrissy1122848@gmail.com; at cashapp - $christina1lisacchhi; on GoFundMe at https://gofund.me/99ab479e or mail a check to Gabbie at PO Box 98, Woodbourne, NY 12788.

Gabriella Rose Lisacchi, spinal muscular atrophy, disability, mobility, van


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