Community raising money for girl injured in crash
SOUTH BEND, Ind.--The car crash happened at around 8 PM Friday night on Grant Street in South Bend, when a car hit an SUV, holding Kassandra Zwierzynski and four of her young children, including her oldest 13-year-old Giuliana in the car.
The driver of the car who hit the family head-on died in the crash, and young Giuliana was air lifted to Riley Children’s Hospital with serious injuries. Loved ones, still trying to make sense of what happened.
“Wow...complete disbelief,” Owner of Creative Dance N’ Lori South said.
“I did not know what to think right away I was just really distraught and my first reaction was a little bit of anger somewhat, because why? Like she’s only 13 and she has her whole life ahead of her,” Miss South Bend and dance friend Hannah Stombaugh said.
“As we got more and more information and things got a little more serious and we started to get more difficult news...I mean it was crushing,” Giuliana’s Aunt Stephanie Campbell said.
Giuliana has been a competitive dancer at Creative Dance N’ for the last 8 years, and was getting excited to start High School this coming Fall.
“Dance has been a huge part of her life. She’s got a really wide range, big group of friends for school and her dance team. She’s just very, very social, loves people and she is an amazing big sister to her 5 younger siblings,” Campbell said.
Just 1 day ago, Giuliana got difficult news after surgery that she may never be able to walk again. But despite the news, she’s determined she will walk again, and her dance teacher is certain she’ll be on the dance floor again too.
“And if it takes her 10 years before she can get up out of a chair she’s still going to dance. And we’re going to make sure that she’s in our studio and she’s dancing with us every day because she’s still a dancer at heart. She’s still a dancer. You don’t need to have legs to dance. You don’t have to be able to use those legs like everyone else, there’s all styles of dance and we’re going to make sure she does it all,” South said.
The community is determined to support the family during such a hard time, and make sure Giuliana knows she’s loved by rallying on social media to raise money for her and the family, and even coming up with a hashtag “#GiulianaStrong.”
“I’m just really happy about the community support for this little girl because she is one of the most amazing and authentic and hilarious girls and I know that if anyone can go through this she can go through it with a giant smile on her face and touch many people,” Stombaugh said.
Family members are overwhelmed with joy from the outpour of support they’re receiving.
“We can’t be going through it without the community. It’s really...it’s where we’ve been getting all of our strength. It’s meant the world to us that we’re seeing such a big response and so much support for her. She really needs it,” Campbell said.
Giuliana’s mother Kassandra said in a statement to ABC57 news:
“Giuliana has a long road ahead of her and needs all the prayers and encouragement she can get. It seriously helps to lift her spirits and that is how she will get through this.”
If you want to show your love and support to Giuliana you can send cards and letters of encouragement directly to her at Riley Children’s Hospital:
Care of: Giuliana Mendez
705 Riley Hospital Dr.
Indianapolis, IN 46202 to Giuliana Mendez.
A GoFundMe page has also been created to help out with medical costs. Click here to donate!
Miss South Bend, Hannah Strombaugh, is donating 50% of her proceeds on her Etsy shop to the recovery fund. Click here to visit her shop to purchase a custom-made mask to help out!
Creative Dance N’ is also having a T-shirt fundraiser to help raise money to help support Giuliana and her family, you can go into the dance studio to purchase a shirt, call the studio to place an order, or reach out to Lori South on Facebook.
An Amazon #GiulianaStrong Wishlist has also been created to help on the home front for Kassandra’s other 4 children to help with food and other snacks for school. You can click here to visit the Wishlist and help out.
To keep up to date on Giuliana’s road to recovery, you can click here to follow the blog!