By ANNE MARIE TOBIN
Lynnfield native Danielle Nolan Normile is on a mission. The 2007 Lynnfield High School graduate is running the 121st Boston Marathon this April with the Spaulding Race for Rehab Team.
Normile is running the race in honor of her cousin, Dylan Rizzo. On December 28, 2010, Rizzo’s car hit a patch of black ice on Summer Street just 200 yards from his home. He was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Within an hour, neurosurgeons had removed the left side of his skull and part of the right to make room for his brain to swell.
But Rizzo had slipped into a deep coma and would remain in a coma for two weeks. After about a month, he finally opened his eyes. He was awake, but was not aware of his surroundings. He had transitioned into a vegetative state.
Doctors initially said there was no hope for a successful recovery and that he likely would stay in a vegetative state for the rest of his life.
Joseph Giacino, a researcher at Spaulding Rehab Hospital, disagreed. He began studying the case. He explained that with practice he believed Dylan’s brain could get better. That’s when Dylan moved to Spaulding and they got to work.
Dylan was a patient at Spaulding Boston for five months. Five years after the accident, Dylan proved Giacino was right, making a miraculous recovery and resuming many aspects of his pre-accident life, including volunteering as an assistant coach for the Lynnfield High indoor and outdoor track teams.
“Without the help of the amazing staff at Spaulding Rehab Hospital, my cousin may not have progressed to where he is today. My family is incredibly grateful towards Spaulding and I feel especially honored to have an opportunity to give back to Spaulding,” said Normile. “I know every day is a struggle but it’s also a miracle. My family owes a lot to Spaulding and I am flattered that I can do my part and give back to those that helped my family live through the worst year of our life.”
Normile’s goal is to raise $8,000. To date, her campaign has raised $6,625 or 83 percent of her goal, not including proceeds from the Pizza with a Purpose fundraiser held March 13 at California Pizza Kitchen at Market Street in Lynnfield.
Over the past 12 years, more than 350 Race for Rehab runners have raised over $3.5 million. Funds raised through the Race for Rehab program have provided advancements to patient care, education, research innovation and capital improvements. Every dollar supports Spaulding’s mission to improve the quality of life for persons recovering from or learning to live fully with illness, injury or disability.
This year, funds raised will support the many research initiatives within the Spaulding Network. The research aims to improve the care provided to Spaulding patients, as well as patient outcomes in clinical areas such as spinal cord injury, brain injury, musculoskeletal and neurological disorders.
For more information or to make a donation, visit Normile’s fundraising page, https://www.crowdrise.com/spauldingrehabboston17/fundraiser/daniellenormile.