Real Michiana: A plan for a perfect stranger
MIDDLEBURY, Ind. –
A student in Middlebury is making it his mission to honor a young girl’s short, but inspirational life despite having never met her.
Julius Graber volunteered to be the chairman for a 5K run to benefit a family he had never met after he heard they had lost their ten-year-old daughter to bacterial meningitis.
“The community that I come from is a really good community,” said Graber. “Everyone is always showing support, so it was nice to have an opportunity to do the same, to get to take up that role in helping out this family.”
Graber is a senior at Northridge High School. He says it was another classmate who actually brought up the idea to support the Dipietro family. He had never met the family, but still took the lead on the project.
“We’re putting it on for Abbi Dipietro and her family. She passed away early this year from bacterial meningitis.”
Abbi was only ten years old when she died in February. Her family says they were told she just had an ear infection, and within a few days she was gone.
Now, through planning the All for Abbi 5k, Graber has met Abbi’s mom and brother.
“I think it was just overwhelming that people who didn’t know her wanted to do something for her,” said Tasha Dipietro-Anderson, Abbi’s mom. “They’re 16 and 17, 18 but they’re still kids and to think about somebody else in your community, it was touching.”
“I can see what they’re going through,” said Graber. “Even in something like this you know. For us, it’s a run, but for them it’s a lot bigger than that.”
The family says, it is bringing them some comfort, but most of all, they’re happy it is raising awareness for bacterial meningitis.
“It’s something that doesn’t happen very often, and a lot of people don’t know the signs to look for,” said Dipietro-Anderson. It started out as an ear infection. That’s what we thought it was, and it turned into something more because she wasn’t treated properly.
“There’s some stress,” said Graber about planning and organizing the event, “but ultimately know that what I’m doing is going to go and benefit that family, it’s a great feeling.”
Graber says they’ve already raised around a thousand dollars from sponsors and by selling t-shirts.
The t-shirts were designed with Abbi in mind, combining some of her favorite things: the color pink, tutus and tiaras.
“She was colorful every day,” said her mom. “We couldn’t get her to match. Every day she had to wear almost every color of the rainbow.”
All the money raised will go straight back to help the family.
“I’m glad to know we live in a community where everyone can come together for people,” said Dipietro-Anderson.
The race will start at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 18. It costs $25 to race and $15 for a t-shirt. Registration can be done here or at the event right before the race starts