New York.- By Catherine TsounisAn angel in the book of life wrote down my baby’s birth. Then whispered as she closed the book ‘too beautiful for earth’.1
A unique father and his friend George Isaakides climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania as a memorial for his daughter, Joanna Sophia Ioannou. Costa Ioannou, of Whitestone New York and his associate George Isaakidis began their trek up Kilimanjaro on January 18th-Jan 27, 2021.
“Due to our unfortunate tragedy, we have collaborated with the Cameron Boyce family to bring awareness and find a cure for SUDEP and epilepsy,” Costa Ioannou said. “The common bond that we now share will hopefully pave the way for future therapeutic breakthroughs for this rare and unfamiliar diagnosis. The proceeds for the foundation will be dispersed between the Cameron Boyce Foundation and family members with Epilepsy in dire financial needs.
The proceeds for the foundation will be dispersed between the Cameron Boyce Foundation and family members with Epilepsy in dire financial needs.”2
“I, Costa, Joanna’s dad, have decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with my sidekick George Isaakidis. It is the largest free-standing mountain in the world. The purpose of this journey is to bring awareness of epilepsy and SUDEP. Due to our unfortunate tragedy, we have collaborated with the Cameron Boyce family to bring awareness and find a cure for SUDEP and epilepsy. The common bond that we now share will hopefully pave the way for future therapeutic breakthroughs for this rare and unfamiliar diagnosis.
The proceeds for the foundation will be dispersed between the Cameron Boyce Foundation and family members with Epilepsy in dire financial needs. Our goal as parents is to find a cure, so that no other family will endure what we have experienced during these past two blurry and painful years. Many times, I feel frustrated and helpless, because I cannot hug or kiss my child. However, I know that when I am at the peak of Kilimanjaro, Joanna will see how much her parents miss and love her. Even if I cannot physically see her, I know she will feel the infinite love of her parents. If it means to go across the world and climb a summit to bring awareness for everyone that passed from SUDEP, then so be it. I will do it!! We will be leaving on Monday 18th and Summiting the Uhuru Peak, Kilimanjaro on 28th January #JOURNEY FOR JOANNA”3
Mount Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano in Tanzania. It has three volcanic cones: Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira. It is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest single free-standing mountain in the world: 5,895 meters (19,341 ft) above sea level and about 4,900 metres (16,100 ft) above its plateau base. Kilimanjaro is the fourth most topographically prominent peak on Earth. The first people known to have reached the summit were Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller, in 1889. It is part of Kilimanjaro National Park and is a major climbing destination. Because of its shrinking glaciers and disappearing ice fields, it has been the subject of many scientific studies. Natural forests cover about 1,000 square kilometers (250,000 acres) on Kilimanjaro. In the foothill area maize, beans, sunflowers and, on the western side, wheat are cultivated. Remnants of the former savanna vegetation with Acacia, Combretum, Terminalia and Grewia also occur.4
I read the “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”, a short story by Ernest Hemingway first published in August, 1936, in Esquire magazine. A 1952 Movie was produced with Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner.
On their first day, the group trekked through the rain forest. Day 2 into Day 3 was in Rainforest of the Muurland region.
Third day they trekked through Shira Plateau spending night at Moir camp in Alpine desert Zone. Day 4 was in the cool Artic Desert zone. Oxygen masks checked twice daily. For a further update, visit https://www.facebook.com/mariateresaioannou.
Dr. Maria Teresa Sakatis Ioannou and her husband Kosta. on November 6, 2018, lost their beautiful 9-year-old daughter Joanna, who passed away in her sleep. “The tragic event was a shock to our family and our entire community,” said the family. “Though this is a parent’s worst nightmare, we cannot succumb to the paralyzing grief we feel, because we need to stay strong for Joanna’s sisters, Isabella, Andriana and brother Raphael. Most importantly, we refuse to let Joanna’s tragic passing define her memory.
The family explained “we want to remember Joanna for her carefree personality and adventurous character. She would always try new activities without hesitation, singing and had a love for musicals. Her most recent love was ‘The Greatest Showman.’ After Joanna passed away, we found the most wonderful video of Joanna singing “Never Enough” by Loren Allred and quickly, it brought some light into our life and guided us by its words.
We started a GoFundMe page. Our goal was to raise $10,000, but it remarkably reached over $110,000. Joanna inspired us to create The Joanna Sophia Foundation and to use the donated funds to help children and families in need. This page is our official fundraising platform where we will be posting events in her memory. Our objective is to inspire everyone to have Joanna’s positive outlook in life:
Work towards your goals; do not wait for them to reach you on their own.
Do not be stagnant or overthink; be inspired to conquer your fears.
Do not blame others for hurdles that you face; learn how to leap over them.
Do not feel sorry for yourself, no one else will. Joanna’s foundation encourages you to get up and accomplish your goals in life.”5
I personally know the Sakatis family since the 1980’s. The passing of Joanna hurts too much to talk about it. We wish the Sakatis and Ioannou family good luck in their efforts. Visit https://www.joannasophiafoundation.org/, LetJoannaInspireYou https://www.facebook.com/groups/739761719733128, and https://www.facebook.com/cameronboycefoundation.