In the wake of immense grief, two parents have found a way to commemorate their daughter’s life in a big way in Bayside.
Anthony and Leah Ziniti donated $27,000 to the St. Mary’s Hospital for Children on Aug. 10 in memory of their 3-month-old daughter, Caterina Grace. The funding will be used to dedicate a special space in the facility the “Caterina Grace Room” and support the healthcare center’s vital programs and services for children. The parents have also pledged to raise an additional $23,000, which they will donate next year.
Born on Nov. 15, 2016, Caterina Grace Ziniti passed away on Feb. 27 due to respiratory failure caused by Nemaline Myopathy, a group of congenital neuromuscular disorders that cause muscle weakness, hypoventilation, swallowing dysfunction and impaired speech ability.
Considered one of the most severe muscle disorders faced by children and estimated to occur in one in 50,000 live births, the parents are working to establish the Caterina Grace Foundation: a pending nonprofit that will work to raise money and awareness to combat the condition. The recent donation to the Bayside hospital, where their daughter received health services, was the product of the group’s first charitable efforts.
“Our beautiful daughter Caterina Grace had a very brief stay on this earth but touched so many hearts. We will never know why God took our angel so soon but we are at peace knowing she is no longer suffering,” Anthony and Leah Ziniti said. “We are truly blessed at the outpouring of support we have received through the Caterina Grace Foundation and are humbled to be able to share this gift with St. Mary’s Hospital, a place that was so important in our beautiful daughter’s fight for survival.”
St. Mary’s CEO Dr. Edwin Simpser said the health organization was “deeply humbled” by the contribution.
“Anthony and Leah Ziniti displayed such strength during their daughter’s illness and we are so grateful they have decided to honor Caterina Grace through a gift to St. Mary’s,” Simpser said. “We hope the Caterina Grace Room will be a place of comfort and healing for many families in the coming years.”
St. Mary’s Hospital for Children, located at 29-01 216th St., is the only provider of pediatric long-term and rehabilitative care in the region. The facility provides services including intensive rehabilitation, specialized care and education to children with special needs and life-limiting conditions.