Giuliana D’Aria’s memory will continue at Heritage Park

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One family in Cranbury is hoping to bring joy to others with new additions to Heritage Park in honor of their daughter.

The D’Aria family is donating a bench, swing set and a musical instrument in Heritage Park, which is located on 57 S. Main St.

“With the swing set, there is a disabled swing and regular swings. The musical instrument is a vertical piece of equipment that has bars, with a paddle for children who touch it. Basically it is a chime type of musical instrument,” said Gianna Foglia D’Aria, mother of Giuliana.

She said the family donations are in the honor and memory of their daughter Giuliana, who Gianna said brought so much joy to their family.

“She was a beautiful little girl born healthy, and then in her first few months of life, she started to show signs of regression,” D’Aria said. “She was diagnosed with neurodegenerative disease that does not have any treatment or cure. The disease is called Leigh syndrome. She lived all her life in Cranbury.”

She said the significance of the donation is because her daughter loved to swing and loved music.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Leigh syndrome is a severe neurological disorder that usually becomes apparent in the first year of life. The condition is characterized by progressive loss of mental and movement abilities and is fatal within two to three years, usually due to respiratory failure.

Giuliana D’Aria passed away in June of 2016, two weeks before her third birthday.

“We wanted to donate something other children could enjoy and use her remembrance to give something to other children. We hope they will get enjoyment from these donations,” D’Aria said.

She said one of the reasons they chose Heritage Park is because it was close by to them.

“Another reason is that the park did not have swings in the park to begin with. It is also a peaceful place to be.”

When Giuliana passed away, the D’Aria family had a lot of family and friends who wanted to donate to the cause, according to D’Aria.

“We set up a fund. Some people donated directly to the fund. So some funds were from us, but most of it was from family and friends. We were able to raise approximately more than $10,000,” she said.

D’Aria said it has taken a couple years to get this project going, since her daughter’s passing.

“I want people to know my daughter was a happy girl that brought joy to a lot of people. I hope that the park and the equipment continues to bring joy to other people and their children in the future, as she was able to do for us,” she said. “My daughter may have been a sick girl, but she gave us a lot and taught us a lot. We are so blessed that she was in our lives even if it was for a short amount of time.”

They are looking at a dedication ceremony during July, according to D’Aria.

“We go to the Heritage Park and it means a lot to know people are going to enjoy themselves with these donations. My two younger sons will be able to play in the park on the swings in remembrance of their sister,” she said. “They refer to it as Giuliana’s swing. It is just great to be able to share with them and the other children in town.”