West Chester, PA

Dazzling Advice: Keep Your Head Up and Smile

Gregory Vellner

WEST CHESTER, Pa. - It was nearly 11 a.m. on a Wednesday when, to Gina Daddazio’s pleasant surprise, a buoyant song filled her home with enthusiasm and wise words.

‘Oh, you turn out fine.

Fine, oh, you turn out fine….’

“I love song lyrics,” she said, “and in the Andy Grammer song that’s playing, he sings, ‘you gottta keep your head up; you gotta let your hair down.’ The song is so positive and says you gotta keep going and do whatever it takes. That means so much to me, and it cracks me up that it came on right before we talk. Wow, how’s this for timing”

Our look at triumphant battles with a disability found the 42-year-old Daddazio, and see the lyrics of her life story resonate positivity and cheerfulness -- despite the challenges of living with multiple sclerosis, a neurologic disorder she’s had for more than 13 years. And as Grammer puts it in his hit song, rainbows follow rain.

For the West Chester, Pa. resident, the MS rainstorm began April 11, 2008.

‘I was diagnosed three days before me and Steve’s first wedding anniversary,” she recalled. “Since then he has taken it on as his disease as much as it’s mine. It’s hard for loved ones and there are days when I feel bad for him.”

MS has left her some tines in need of a cane when walking, battling imbalance, and fighting fatigue.

“Every MS patient has their moments of difficulty with relapses, and it’s hard to pull yourself out of those when you’re down and out,” said Daddazio. “But I truly believe in a support system of people around you that help keep you going.”

Daddazio’s support team – in effect, her rainbow – is the undying love of her husband, Steve, and their children, Domenic, 11, and Joella, 9.

“The kids and Steve give me motivation to keep living and moving forward,” she said. “It’s hard these days for everyone – we’re all in the pandemic -- because it’s easier to look at the things that are challenges or struggles and not see the end of the tunnel. But there’s always an end to the tunnel and a way out.”

A graduate of West Chester University with a Fine Arts degree, she worked fulltime using her graphic arts and other talents until the shift to fulltime mother. Said she: “I love to be able to stay at home. I am fortunate that my husband can do what he does and allow me to do what I do.”

One of those things is run the support group she began at the Greater Delaware Valley chapter of the National MS Society. It’s a local support group, but….

“For the time being, we’re doing virtual calls. The group members are great and so educated with new ideas. It’s really fascinating. We have people from all over – one man from Georgia and a woman from New Jersey.”

Leaning on personal experience, Daddazio encourages group members to “get out and do things, and stay healthy.”

And do one other thing, too, she advises: “keep smiling.”

Keep smiling, advises a disability battlerLesly Juarz

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As a professional journalist for several years -- reporter, editor, feature writer, columnist -- I handled a range of subjects. Breaking news, investigative series, government action, feature events, and staff feature writer with national entertainment magazine interviewing stars including Tom Selleck, Mel Brooks and Danny DeVito. No matter the topic, certain ingredients are key: truth, facts, objectivity, balance.

Bucks County, PA

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