Posted: March 25, 2015
We love to share positive stories that inspire through the example they set every day. It’s a rare treat when someone we highlight is actually a member of our community and willing to speak more on their story. Gabriella Greco was featured on our Page recently for her passion and goal to bring the music of Judy Garland to the stage. While this in of itself is a tremendous undertaking and a fantastic example to share with children with CP, Ms. Greco was also willing to provide an overview on her story which we’re proud to share here:
After spending nearly 10 years working in publicity for some of the greatest entertainers of our time, I learned the trade quite quickly. I learned the importance of promotion, while continuously honing my craft to reflect exactly what needed to be said. When asked by Cerebral Palsy.org to be a contributing blogger I thought, “This will be a piece of cake. I’ve got this.” The truth of the matter is I didn’t. I didn’t because this time is different. This time it isn’t for or about someone else. It isn’t about saying the right thing to add some extra grammatical gusto in celebration of another TONY Award win by a client. This time it’s about me, an introduction to my own story; my own journey as a young adult living with Cerebral Palsy.
I’ve spent the past few days writing and re-writing again; crafting my words in that all so familiar way, to result in the “perfect pitch.” After some frustration, I realized that the fact is, there is no “pitch” meant for the telling of one’s life. So with this, I write from my heart with a hope that in sharing my journey, that I will somehow show those who are in similar circumstance to myself that they are not alone. That there is someone out there who not only understands, but cares, and cares deeply.
I am Gabriella. Gabriella Elizabeth Greco to be exact. Friends call me Gabby. Family calls me Elle. I was born on June 25, 1988 in a small town in Upstate, New York. Seems like the standard beginning to one’s life, right? Except mine was the furthest thing from. You see I was born four months premature; weighing a whole 1 LB 5 OZ. The odds were against me from the get-go. Touch and go with every passing minute. Doctors were certain I wouldn’t survive, repeatedly telling my parents to prepare for the worst. And in the very slim chance that I did survive, told my parents to prepare for the worst. In the countless re-tellings from my mother’s perspective, she knew differently. No explanation for why, she just knew. Holding fast to her own tenacious way, her keen mother’s intuition, and my tiny little body, she knew that I would live up to the meaning of my name, fulfilling a life of greatness. Gabriella means God’s strength.
Defied the odds I did. So astonished by my miraculous achievement at winning life, my triumphant moment was highlighted on the cover of our local newspaper appropriately titled: “Premature Baby Struggles for Life and Wins”… my first taste of the limelight. Despite the challenges I had as a child, my family recalls that I was always sporting the biggest grin that would often deflect from my bulky leg braces that seemed to take over my micro-mini stick legs. I also always had a song in my heart. So much so, that my gift of song was recognized at the tender age of three. I was singing “Over the Rainbow” with the power of a young adult; astonishing my family once again (I have a way of doing that). Little did or could I know than that the song and the woman singing it would be the fuel leading me to where I am today.
Although it hasn’t been without its challenges, I lead a fairly normal and productive life. On the days that have proven to be a little more difficult and lonely, I have always found great solace and escape in music and singing. One of my forever favorites has and will always be the incomparable Judy Garland.
This project is a rite of passage and a heartfelt “thank you” to the woman who carried me. It’s a platform for those who face similar struggles to myself, to show them that nothing is impossible, that each of our voices are worth the attention of others, that we can find strength in our hardships.
In thinking about what all of this has meant for me, I couldn’t help but also think of the 16,000,000 other voices who, because of their CP, often times feel unheard, voiceless, and overlooked due to the societal assumption of: just because our bodies are limited, our minds must be too.
In researching, I quickly realized how much truth there was to my contemplation, as well as the fact that the disabled youth are the most underrepresented demographic in society, and decided that it’s time to change that, to bring an awareness; to show the world who we really are. We’re talented, we’re creative, and we’re strong. And together with your help, I can use my voice to give hope to those unheard.
Such time has passed, but I have never lost the smile that the power of music gave to me. I found solace in it as the harsh reality of being “different” befell me; the voice of my beloved Judy gave me strength. I grew up with stars in my eyes and set out to take the lights of Broadway when I started college. Although I didn’t wind up on the stage, I still made it to the Great White Way. After years of working in public relations with some of the top names in the industry, including the indomitable Joan Rivers whose unwavering belief in me paved the way, I have connected the dots to my destiny. Now is the time for me to shine.
My wish as someone who has lived my whole life with the sometimes debilitating disease is for you to get informed. So often, people don’t want to know what they don’t understand; mostly due to an unspoken fear. Please be the change. Educate yourself. And then, inform your friends, and then they their friends. With knowledge comes understanding, understanding, patience, patience, compassion, compassion, love, and with love, comes acceptance.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Our thanks to Gabriella Greco for sharing her story. You can check out her YouTube channel by clicking here to hear more of her work and find out about her efforts with bringing Garland’s music to the masses.
If we can be of assistance to any young child with Cerebral Palsy, through any number of resources, help, or support, please contact us through our form (available here) and a team member will call you soon!