NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A paralyzed Brooklyn teenager who was blessed by the Pope in 2015 says her life is still filled with miracles.
CBS2 first met Julia Bruzzese three years ago when she was blessed by Pope Francis at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
“I came here because I wanted to meet the Pope, because I believe in a miracle,” she told CBS2’s Dick Brennan at the time. “It was the most precious moment of my life.”
On Wednesday, Bruzzese told CBS2’s Cindy Hsu that she believes the first miracle came days later when she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. She had gone from a healthy, active child to becoming paralyzed, and doctors couldn’t figure out why.
When her story hit the news, strangers reached out from all over the world to help with medical bills and equipment.
“If it wasn’t for community, just people reaching out and offering us help, we would have lost our home, we would have lost everything,” her father, Enrico Bruzzese, said.
She just celebrated her 15th birthday and said her faith is stronger than ever.
“We still see the love from the Pope still happening, the miracles are still continuing,” she said.
Bruzzese said the latest miracle is a wheelchair lift. She and her family had been trying to get one for nearly two years, but it wasn’t until State Sen. Marty Golden got involved that it happened.
“I was so ecstatic when I got it, because before the lift… my brothers or my dad would have to lift me over their shoulder and bring me down the steps,” she said.
She and her family are warning others that early diagnosis is the key. If you catch Lyme early enough, antibiotics can successfully treat the disease.
Bruzzese had a message for others suffering from Lyme: “They’re not alone, and it gets easier… They’re going to be OK, and I’m here fighting for them.”
It should be no surprise she plans to become a doctor, Hsu reported. She is also working on starting a foundation to help other people with Lyme disease.