Before You Go

Unexpected Blessings By Gina (Gagliardi) DaLan ’97


Before You Go

My husband Stefan ’97 and I met at Stonehill and have stayed connected to the College throughout the years. Living in Grafton, we often visit the campus with our children, Maya and Luke, to ride bikes, grab snacks at the Commons and shop at the bookstore. (See more below.)

RECENTLY, our love for Stonehill grew even stronger.

At 18 months old, Luke was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation—the space between his brain and spinal cord was too small, which can cause headaches and nerve related issues. Within four years, Luke started exhibiting problematic symptoms and developed a limp due to fluid in his spinal cord. On his sixth birthday, our neurosurgeon delivered overwhelming news: Luke needed brain surgery.

Terrified, we began preparing Luke and ourselves for surgery. In reaching out for support, I thought of Father Daniel Issing, C.S.C., whom we knew from Campus Ministry. Even though he is at King’s College now and we hadn’t seen him in years, he was a great influence on us when we were students. His response was touching:

Dear Gina and Stefan,

I am now and will continue to pray for dear little Luke and all of you. I will ask the King’s community to pray for Luke. I can only imagine the worry. May God bless Luke, allowing only minimal pain and an easy and full recovery. May you be at peace, as I know the anxiety and fear will be more yours than his. 

I really appreciate you reaching out, Gina. I remember my years at Stonehill fondly, and I pray for all whom I met there regularly.  

If you think of it and have time, please send me a picture of your family, and I will put it on my prayer table here. If I can help in any other way, Gina, please let me know. Keep in touch. God bless your family, especially Luke.


Father Dan

A Stonehill trustee, Fr. Dan remembered us, prayed for us and had his community praying for Luke. On the morning of the surgery, as my stomach was in knots, I received another comforting email from him reminding us that he was praying for us and Luke’s medical team and that God would protect our son during surgery.

Stefan and I were grateful for and strengthened by his prayers. Luke spent hours in the operating room, days in the hospital and weeks recovering at home. But his surgery proved successful.

With our son home and recuperating, we felt so fortunate, but another unexpected Stonehill blessing awaited us.

One day, we opened our door, and there stood our college friends. They had meals, snacks and desserts to feed us for a week, along with presents for Luke and Maya. They had organized a collection, purchased gifts and driven quite a distance just to drop everything off. After hugs and a peek at Luke, they left so he could rest. Luke’s smile was priceless, surpassed only by the warmth in our hearts.

At Stonehill, I never imagine a scenario like the one we experienced. But I’m thrilled I attended the College and met such wonderful, compassionate people. Thanks to them, our family survived one of the most difficult challenges of our lives. 

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