Community comes together for fundraiser for Giuliana Mendez

NOW: Community comes together for fundraiser for Giuliana Mendez

GRANGER, Ind. --  Michiana community members rallying together to show they are Giuliana Strong, once again.

Orange Theory Fitness in Granger held a fundraiser Sunday, to help the 13- year old girl and her family, who were injured in a serious crash back in February.

.Roger Ellsworth, the owner of Orange Theory Fitness said the cause touched his heart, and although he doesn’t know Giuliana personally, Ellsworth said her story is inspirational.

“When I saw some videos of her and the way she was talking about just being gracious and having gratitude for life it just everyone can learn something,” Ellsworth said.

Ellsworth organized a fundraiser at Orange Theory Fitness for 13-year-old Giuliana Mendez and her family.

You’ll remember back in February, Kassandra Zwierzynski, along with her five children, including Giuliana, was in a car crash that involved a drunk driver. The crash left the family with minor injuries, except for Giuliana, who was airlifted to Riley Children’s Hospital with a severe spinal injury and has spent weeks at Shirley Ryan in Chicago. She came back home last month.

Her story of resilience has inspired many in the community.

“Her perseverance and she is just truly an amazing person inside and out and she is pushing through one of the worst things that can happen it, anyone,” Becky Kintzele, whose children go to school with Giuliana.

Over 20 people came out Sunday to join in on the “one-day” 90 minute Orange Theory Fitness class, a fundraiser put on by Ellsworth to help raise money for the local 13- year old girl. The initial goal was to raise $2,000, they’ve raised over $7,000.

“It shows that our area will stand behind somebody who, that needs help. We want to be there for them, and help in any way we can,” Kintzele said.

To stand behind Giuliana, participants rallied together showing off their purple, reminding everyone they are Giuliana strong.

“To whom much is given, much is required. So, it was an opportunity for us to show up and show out for her because we have children of our own,” Ester Espitia said.

Giuliana still has a long road ahead, but the community support motivates the teen to push further.

“She’s still going to Shirly Ryan twice a week for rehab and going to school and everything else that goes along with everyday life on top of being in a wheelchair,” Kintzele said.

All proceeds from the fundraiser will go to Giuliana and her family. 

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