NEW YORK – Following the tragic loss of a child, the shock and grief can often be overwhelming to parents and families, but Costa Ioannou and his family instead chose to honor the memory of 9 year-old Joanna by establishing the Joanna Sophia Foundation.
Ioannou told The National Herald, “On November 6, 2018, our beautiful 9 year-old daughter Joanna passed away in her sleep by SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy). This tragic event was a shock to our family and our entire community. 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 (12), Andriana (10) and baby brother Raphael (4). Most importantly, we refuse to let Joanna’s tragic passing define her memory. We want to remember Joanna for her carefree personality and adventurous character. She would always try new activities without hesitation, even if she knew she would not be the best at it.
“The Joanna Sophia Foundation focuses primarily with families with epilepsy. Our goal is to have fun family events to bring out everyone to support a great cause. We did not want to turn her events into a morbid day but instead a day to have fun and celebrate life. Our first event was held on June 29, 2019, and 1,200 people walked and ran from Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church down Francis Lewis Boulevard and finishing at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church where another 800 people attended. We had over 2,000 people enjoy the carnival-themed event with a large variety of acts including a sword swallower, a Guinness World Record knife thrower, the aerialst from the movie The Greatest Showman, jugglers, a stilt walker, and horses dressed as unicorns. We also received video messages from several celebrities including Anna Vissi.”
“Our next event will be held on June 27 and we are hoping to have over 4,000 attend,” Ioannou said.
Registration is now open for the event and participants are encouraged to pick up their t-shirts for the 5K Run/Walk before the event.
Participants must wear their t-shirts to the event since the t-shirt serves as the admission ticket to the run/walk and the festival which follows.
Anyone not wearing the event t-shirt will have to pay to participate.
T-shirt pick up times:
Saturday, June 20: 9 AM-2 PM
Monday, June 22: 9 AM-2 PM
Wednesday, June 24: 6 PM-9 PM
Thursday, June 25: 9 AM-2 PM and 6 PM-9 PM.
11-01 154th Street in Whitestone, NY 11357.
More information and registration is available online: https://www.joannasophiafoundation.org/events.