A Helping Hand: Katie Spadone Dipierro
VENICE - Katie Dipierro works full time, on top of taking care of her son Sebastian and her daughter Olivia.
Eighteen-year-old Olivia Dipierro loves Christmas, especially opening presents.
"She sees them and she goes right for them," Katie Dipierro said.
Katie holds onto those moments because Olivia's life hasn't been easy. She went into congestive heart failure, needing open heart surgery at just 10 weeks old.
"That's a marker to have a genetic disorder," Katie said, "but she was tiny; she looked like a normal little baby to everybody else."
She was diagnosed with Number Six Chromosome Deletion, only the 36th documented case in the world.
"They don't know much about it; they don't know her life expectancy," Dipierro said.
All they knew is she probably wouldn't make it past 10 years old.
"There's been a lot of scares where she's almost been gone," Dipierro. "I can't imagine that day when it comes, and it's something I think about a lot, even though I try not to."
She says Olivia is always happy and never cries. According to Katie's Co-worker, Sue Flynn, that's a trait she gets from her mom.
"She doesn't really talk about her troubles, you know, she's always happy," Flynn said about Dipierro. "You would never know that this girl has any kind of weight going on."
So she secretly nominated Dipierro for A Helping Hand. Thanks to Flynn and Attorney Carl Reynolds of Carl Reynolds Law, Christmas came early.
"We heard about the rare condition of Olivia, but rare still is your courage that you've shown and everything you've been through," Reynolds said while presenting a $1,000 check to Dipierro.
Now she can experience one of her greatest joys: Watching Olivia rip open presents.