When we started Maria’s Love Foundation in April of 2014, our main goal was to simply help people. We did not know exactly how we could help or even who at that moment, but just knowing that there are so many people out there who need support from others, gave us a reason to reach out to the community. Those feelings gave us the strength to lead us on the right path. Very soon after, we heard of an unfortunate accident. A young man, from our Greek community named Anthony Michaelides, had been in a terrible motorcycle accident. Without hesitation, we knew we wanted to help. At the time of the accident, Anthony Michaelides had been living in Los Angeles, California, where he became a big part of the community. Anthony had a dream to help people pursue their own dreams. He founded an organization called “The Dream Tree”, which took place in a park in downtown LA. The purpose of this organization was to help young adults realize what their dreams were and to lead them on the right path to help make their own dreams come true. He received a grant to complete The Dream Tree and ended up helping over 200 adolescents, who had all written and hung their dreams on the tree. Soon after Anthony’s accomplishment, on Father’s Day 2014, he got into a terrible accident. He was driving his motorcycle and unexpectedly slipped on gravel. He found himself holding onto a guardrail but could not hold on for long and fell 100 feet to the ground below. He sustained multiple severe injuries, after which the doctors only gave him a 5% chance of survival and expected him to remain in a coma for 1-1.5 years. With Anthony’s amazing strength and the amount of prayers and love he was receiving from everyone around, especially his family and friends back home in Queens, NY, Anthony was discharged from the hospital in California only TWO months after his accident. Anthony has beaten all odds and is currently back home in NY continuing his rehabilitation to get him back where he needs to be. This is a story of how HOPE, STRENGTH and LOVE can achieve miracles. We were so proud and happy that we were able to help Anthony with some of his medical bills for the numerous surgeries he had to undergo. 

Anthony Michaelides

Jake Vassallo is a sweet little boy who at 2 years old was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism. Jake’s parents, Chris and Claudia, reached out to us due to the limited assistance they receive for all of the services Jake needs. They constantly battle to keep his much needed services, such as speech therapy and occupational therapy. Therapies and treatments cost $40,000 to $60,000 per year and Chris and Claudia often pay out of pocket for these necessary services. Surprisingly, the many therapies that children with autism require are not covered by health insurance. Chris and Claudia even had to get up and relocate to a different neighborhood on Long Island that offers the services Jake needs in that school district. The grant we offered to the Vassallo family was able to help Jake receive speech therapy because he is non-verbal, ABA therapy to teach him basic life skills, feeding therapy because Jake has a limited diet due to sensory issues, and sensory gym sessions to assist with his hypersensitivities to various textures and movement. We were so excited to be able to help this wonderful family and since we met the Vassallo family, Jake has said the word “mom” for the first time. How amazing! We wish you all the best!

Jake Vassallo

Carol is a mother of two who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007. She lived a normal life for years with few symptoms of the disease. Carol decided to go on a new medication, which only had a 1% risk of possible brain infection. Tragically, she became 1 in 50 people in the United States to develop complications from this medication. Carol developed a brain infection, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML).  She spent six months in a coma-like state and is now fully paralyzed and bound to a wheel chair as a result of the medication. Currently, Carol’s daughters are trying hard to keep their mom living at home and avoiding having to put her into an assisted living facility. The cost of 24-hour home care and all of the medical expenses are tremendous and is making it a struggle for the family to keep up.

Carol Watson

Finn Rocket Mirasol is an 8 year old boy who unfortunately suffered a grand mal seizure at three months old and continues to have seizures about twice a week. Finn was diagnosed with agenesis of the corpus callosum, cleft on the right hemisphere of the brain and cortical dysplasia. He is fed through a gastrostomy tube and has severe developmental delays. Finn attends school with a nurse because of his frequent seizures. Finn was growing out of his current stander and insurance was covering less and less for his new equipment. The stander is important for physical development and Maria’s Love Foundation was very happy to have been able to sponsor the purchase of a new stander. We wish Finn all the best in his future!

Finn Rockett Mirasol

Hannah Taylor is a strong, young woman who had to overcome osteosarcoma (bone cancer) as a child. For her treatment, the tumor in her femur had to be resected. Therefore, part of her femur had to be replaced with a prosthesis when the tumor was surgically removed.  For almost ten years, Hannah was able to walk without any problems. About five months before we met Hannah in September 2015, she began having excruciating pain in her leg and was having a hard time walking. She started to require crutches to walk. After getting misdiagnosed multiple times, Hannah finally found out that her prosthesis had broken inside of her leg. She required surgery immediately but didn't have the funds to pay for this surgery. We were so happy that we were able to help Hannah through this hard time. We recently heard from Hannah in December and we are happy to say that she is recovering well! She still has some more progress to make but she is very happy with the outcome of her surgery.

Hannah Taylor

Attila was diagnosed with Progressive Multiple Sclerosis in December of 2004, at the age of 30. He has tried many treatments, but none have helped him go into remission. His MS is continuing to progress, causing him to have difficulty walking and even affecting his ability to withstand high temperatures. Attila’s doctors advised him and his wife that his only hope of putting the disease in remission is to admit into a stem cell study in Chicago, however the costs for the treatment, of course, are very high. We were able to offer a grant to Attila to help him enter this study that has a very high success rate. We wish Attila all the best in his treatment!

Attila Vari

“I can’t say enough good things about this foundation. Great folks reaching out into the world with care, making a positive impact on people’s lives, like mine. We needed help and they were there to help when no one else was. Awesome place, awesome people. I am forever in your debt. Thank you Antri and team.” Those are a few kind words from Eric Hardin. Him and his family were going through a difficult time when he became ill and could no longer work while his wife was pregnant. We hope that the grant we offered you helped relieve some of the burden of those medical bills!

Eric Hardin

Penelope is 5 year old girl who was born with Aicardi Syndrome, a neurological disorder that has left her without the ability to move much voluntarily. She is dependent on others for all of her activities of daily living, and this includes taking her out of bed and putting her in her chair. Since September 2014, Penelope has been living at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children. Penelope is growing, and her chair was becoming unsuitable for her. Beyond that, the chair was falling apart, with many of its features not working, such as the recliner, head rest and the hand brakes. We were happy to be able to assist the family in purchasing a new wheelchair for Penelope. We can’t wait to see her in the new chair!

Penelope F

Logan was born premature at 29 weeks, healthy and strong. Unfortunately, at ten days old, Logan needed increased respiratory support and became lethargic. The hospital had suggested a lumbar puncture to rule out meningitis. The next day Logan had stopped moving completely from the neck down. Over the next few days, Logan had received a total of five lumbar punctures and doctors continued to treat him for meningitis. After receiving an MRI, they saw that there was a spinal abscess that was compressing his spinal cord from his cervical spine down to his sacrum, leaving him quadriplegic. He received emergency spinal surgery (spinal decompression laminectomy) at 17 days old. After four months in the NICU and four months in St. Mary’s children’s hospital, Logan finally went home. After extensive research, Logan’s parents found a medical procedure that showed good outcomes for restoring muscle function. Of course, the procedure is expensive. We were happy to help Logan’s family with their enormous medical bills to help Logan receive this procedure. As of two months ago, Logan is beginning to show some resistance in his arms! We wish him all the luck!!

Logan Pichardo

At the age of 11 months, Lucas developed a spontaneous blood clot on his spinal cord, which compressed his spinal cord from C7-T6. Lucas then became paralyzed from his abdomen down. Lucas’ family has been traveling to Kentucky to a special program for rehabilitation. Since December 2016, Lucas has been using Functional Electrostimulation for his legs to maintain his current muscle mass and maintain circulation. This cost the family $18,000 that insurance failed to cover. Lucas’ family applied for a grant to help pay for additional pieces to the electrostimulation equipment. We were happy to offer a grant to help the family purchase the additional pieces necessary!

Lucas C.

Bethany is a two and a half year old girl who was diagnosed with Trisomy 13. She currently resides at St Mary’s Children’s hospital. She had outgrown the wheelchair that was given to her and desperately needed one that properly fit her while she grows. We were able to fund the balance of a new wheelchair so that Bethany could be transported easily and safely.

Bethany Christie

Jason is a 14 year old boy who currently resides at St. Mary’s Children’s hospital. He was born prematurely with many cardiac and respiratory complications. He also started to develop severe scoliosis, causing his spine to curve side ways. Jason is a growing young boy who has outgrown his current wheelchair. The scoliosis was getting worse in this wheelchair. We were very happy to cover a balance that they had for a brand new wheelchair that would fit him perfectly.

Jason Yang

Marcial is a two year old boy who currently resides at St. Mary’s Children’s hospital. He is a child that is minimally conscious due to a severe anoxic injury. His family loves to take him out to spend time with other children and get fresh air, however, prior to applying for our grant, had to spend his time in a stroller that was not appropriate for supporting him and all of the equipment that he requires (ex: ventilator tray). We were able to fund the balance that Marcial had on a new wheelchair that could transport him safely.

Marcial Martinez

Matthew is a 15 year old who resides at St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital. He was diagnosed with a degenerative disease called Sly Syndrome. He requires an oxygen tank and with the wheelchair he had, there was limited room for the equipment he needed, as well as for his growing body. We were able to help Matthew get a new wheelchair that would be more functional for him.

Matthew E.

Luisa was diagnosed with a rare birth defect while in utero and while many hospitals told her mother to terminate, she refused. Luisa has undergone many surgeries in her first 5 months of life and hadn’t gone home until recently. For Luisa to safely stay at home with all of her equipment, the family needed an air purifier and air conditioner to maintain a healthy environment. We were able to purchase these items for them to ensure a safe stay at home for Luisa.

Luisa C.

Luis is a four year old boy diagnosed with multiple medical diagnosis that make it hard for him to be fostered or even adopted. Most notably he has cyclical vomiting syndrome and as a result he is in bed for a week every month dealing with his syndrome. Cognitively he is so smart, receptively he understands it all but unfortunately he cannot express himself entirely using his words. The grant from Maria's Love Foundation was used to pay for a Dynavox for Luis, which is a communication device. The hope is that it will help him communicate with his peers and the adults that surround him.

Luis Canales

Lindsey Marrow is a teenage girl who suffered a traumatic brain injury. She has been hospitalized in St. Mary’s Children's Hospital since 2010. Lindsey had trouble with her current wheelchair and needed a sturdy universal tablet stand to hold up the iPad she uses to verbally communicate. The grant was used to help pay for a new wheelchair, a tablet holder, and a lap tray for Lindsey to use.

Lindsey Marrow

Elias’s mother had Elias at 28 weeks and stayed at a hospital for three months. She later found out Elias had a stroke inside the womb and had to battle a long fight after until he was stable. The family used the grant to provide Elias with a new wheelchair.

Elias Checo

Emilia’s illness started when she was six years old. Emilia first started with an ear infection and a mild cold. In August she said she had some leg pain but worsened the following day as she could no longer move her right leg at all. Emilia was sent to the ER and airlifted to a children’s hospital where she stayed a month. The paralyzation worsened as it spread across and up her body. Many tests and surgical procedures we done. Emilia was transferred to St. Mary’s Hospital for Children and stayed there for 3 months. She was diagnosed with Acute Flaccid Myelitis(AFM). Current day Emilia is paralyzed in her left leg and decreased movement and strength in her right leg. The family travels to St. Mary’s from Bohemia 5 days a week to receive outpatient rehab for 1.5 hours a day. The grant was used to help pay for a stander for Emilia. The stander helps Emilia have a more functional way to stand and do everyday tasks. This will also help Emilia to continue her therapy at home on the weekends and in the time before and after their Locomotor Training therapy at St. Mary’s.

Emilia D’antonio

Austin’s illness started at the age of six in the morning of September 30, 2018. Austin was sick with a virus the night before and lost mobility in both legs the next morning. Austin was diagnosed with Acute Flaccid Myelitis(AFM). This virus causes his antibodies to attack his spinal cords, which affected his legs, causing Austin to become paralyzed. Austin is undergoing Locomotor Training and regained some movement in his right leg and left hip. The grant was used for Austin to continue attending Locomotor Training at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children. This will hopefully help Austin to continue progressing in learning how to move his legs and walk to gain independence.

Austin Bird

Taylor is currently 7 years old and her illness started when she was 9 months old. Ever since she was 9 months, she had many seizures. Each seizure put Taylor into a coma for weeks. When Taylor was 3 and a half years old she was diagnosed with Epilepsy Kidney Failure, Mitochondrial Disease. She has had 2 brain surgeries, a kidney transplant, and a tracheotomy. She has gotten an infection and got her colon removed as well as gotten a gastrostomy tube (gtube) for nutrition. Taylor uses a wheelchair but she can take steps with a gait trainer. The family does not have access to these devices at home. The grant was used to pay for a gait trainer for Taylor. The gait trainer can help Taylor strengthen her legs and let her be more mobile. She will benefit from this device tremendously. The gait trainer will let Taylor be more social and keep up with her peers as well.

Taylor Chanoine

Maria’s Love Foundation reached out to us during one of the hardest moments in our lives. Our 18 month old son Michael was diagnosed with an ultra rare neurodegenerative condition (SPG50) and we posted a plea for help on line, Antri reached out to us and told us about the foundation and the grants available. The financial support we received from the grant will help us to continue to fund Michael’s physio therapy and hopefully get him walking. We are so thankful that our pleas for help were heard and Michael can continue to progress with the help we received from this amazing foundation!

Georgia Pirovolakis