In July 2013, 13-year-old Natalie Giorgi suffered a fatal anaphylactic reaction while vacationing with her family at a camp run by the City of Sacramento. To honor their daughter’s life and prevent future tragedies, Louis and Joanne Giorgi have established the Natalie Giorgi Sunshine Foundation, which recently provided scholarships so that teens with financial need could attend the 2016 FARE Teen Summit. We recently talked to Louis and Joanne about their daughter Natalie’s legacy.
In your words, please tell us about the Natalie Giorgi Sunshine Foundation – why you established it in Natalie’s memory and the aim of the foundation.
After her loss, it became clear to us that Natalie’s story was not finished. Natalie’s story compelled people to pay attention and we recognized that her powerful message resonated with those both inside and outside of the allergy community.
Please tell us why you decided to fund scholarships for teens to attend the FARE Teen Summit in 2016?
As Natalie was a young teen of 13 years, supporting the Teen Summit seemed natural and appropriate. She was interested in helping to make a difference and making things easier for herself, her family, and for others.
What does it mean to you personally to have been a part of this special event?
We know that Natalie would have been empowered by such an event and we would like to feel that we are helping other teenagers feel the same way. It is certainly a way to make dramatic impact in these teenagers and then their communities.
If there is something you could share with parents of teens with food allergies, what would you say?
We would want the parents to talk to their doctors and have a plan. Families need to be vigilant and prepared. With simple plans and simple steps, we can live well with food allergies until the research finds a better option for us all.
What about to teens themselves?
Living with food allergies can be a struggle. But that struggle, with planning and preparation, can be readily managed. Communicating with family and friends, with teachers, classmates, and with restaurant workers is important. Understanding and being prepared with an allergy action plan devised with your doctor is a necessary part of living with food allergies. Carry your medications with you and know how to use them.
As you look to the future now that one chapter – the litigation related to Natalie’s death -– has concluded, what are your future goals?
Our goals are to continue to help raise awareness and advocate in any way possible–through fundraising for research and access to medications, through support of various legislative goals, through funding allergy training in schools and restaurants, and through whatever means possible to make it better for the allergy community. Through these steps, Natalie will continue to help pave the road for others that follow–making it easier and safer.
FARE wishes to thank the Giorgi family for their generosity in sharing Natalie’s story and legacy.
Stay tuned for a guest blog post from the recipient of the national FARE Teen Summit scholarship.