Gianna Marie Gambino tragically passed from Osteosarcoma in February 2021, at the age of 12, after a two-year battle with this rare pediatric cancer. The Marine Park student, who attended P.S. 222, touched so many lives that one of her teachers described the effect Gianna had on him and her fellow students as #TheGiannaEffect. A touching mural was created as a tribute to her life (see “Student Lost Her Battle With Cancer, But Her Memory Lives On,” Canarsie Courier, June 24, 2021), and the Gianna Effect Foundation (“GEF”) was created in 2021 to honor the role model, who was a choir singer, dancer, gym monitor and honor student.
The non-profit organization hosted its First Annual GEF Family Fun Day on Sunday, May 22nd at the El Caribe Country Club to raise funds for pediatric cancer awareness and support families who have children battling the disease.
Hundreds of people attended the carnival, where there were rides, bounce houses, a rock climbing wall, games, raffles, food and entertainment.
Gianna’s father, Carl, a co-founder of GEF, has made it his mission to spread joy in Gianna’s memory.
“Since birth, Gianna exuded a light that shined on others and inspired everyone to do better and treat others with kindness. From her siblings, to her cousins, friends, coaches and teachers, everyone always said they felt happier around her,” Carl said. “And now knowing the stresses a family facing a child’s cancer diagnosis experiences firsthand, we want to do something to pay it forward and spread a little bit of joy and happiness to other families in their own time of need.”
Gianna was treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and GEF recently made a donation of “beauty bags” for patients, filled with many products Gianna used while undergoing treatment. Gianna’s mother, Jillian, said, “When your child is suffering, you are suffering; so anything that seems to brighten their day and put a smile on their face is a very welcome reprieve in a day filled with intense treatment and painful side effects. Especially for tweens and adolescents who lose their hair, beauty products like eyebrow kits and lip gloss help them to achieve a comfort level they tend to miss when facing their new look.”
Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse was also in attendance at the event to show her support.
Photos by Charles Jones