Good People Doing Good Things – Michael and Camille Geraldi

I actually planned and started today’s post to be three short stories about ‘good people doing good things’ for disabled people.  But once I got to the story of Michael and Camille Geraldi, I realized that I did not want to consign their story to a short, 200-300 word snippet, as theirs is a story deserving of so much more.  So, please allow me to introduce you to two beautiful people …

Geraldis-3Michael Geraldi was a pediatrician and his wife Camille a nurse.  What, you ask, is so special about the Geraldis?  During the course of their 40-year marriage, these two wonderful people adopted 88 children with special needs. It started in 1973 when Michael would often find Camille, late at night and well past the end of her shift, in the nursery, rocking the special babies, the ones that families and medical science had already given up on.  Camille had already adopted three of these infants, and when Michael proposed to her, she replied that she wanted to dedicate her life to providing a home for these special children.  Michael replied, “I want to follow your dream.”

child-1The Geraldi family includes kids with intellectual disabilities, spina bifida and Down syndrome. Some have autism or extreme facial deformities. “One child was born with only a brain stem,” Camille said. “We took care of him. He lived to be 25 years old and never had a bedsore.”

The couple established the Possible Dream Foundation in 1986, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.  Through the years, 32 of the children they adopted have died.   “The children I took in were expected to die,” Camille, now 68, told CNN. “But so many of them have lived.” 

child-2To the extent possible, the Geraldis created a normal, loving home environment for the children, complete with assigned chores.  More than 40 children, many of whom are now adults, consider the Geraldis their parents, with countless others staying for extended periods of respite care, hospice, therapeutic rehabilitation and sometimes specialty day care. The oldest, Darlene, is now 32. She lives in a Florida group home. The youngest, Isabella, is 8. Born to a cocaine addict, the girl was deaf and blind as an infant. Today, she is performing a year above her grade level in school.

child-3In addition to the difficulties of caring for so many special-needs children, they have suffered other difficulties as well.  In 1992, Hurricane Andrew flattened their home. The kids were okay, but the family had to relocate to some cabins Mike, co-owned along with several other doctors in Murphy, North Carolina. Then in 2011, while the family was away on a camping trip, lightning struck their homestead. The fire destroyed everything: the house, vehicles, their sense of security. It was after the fire that they relocated from Florida to Ellijay, Georgia.

Geraldis-bookIn 1996, Camille wrote and published a book, Camille’s Children: 31 Miracles and Counting, about their experiences to that point, and providing information about resources for parents of children with disabilities.

The Geraldis have been featured on CNN, in People Magazine, Larry King Live, USA Today, Ladies Home Journal and The Miami Herald.  In addition, they have been featured not once, but twice on 60 Minutes. Here is a clip of the most recent, in 2014

A 1999 article in The Ambassadors  featuring the Geraldis says “the family expenditure is at the astronomical figure of $264,000 annually. The family expenditures in a single month is more than $22,000 including $1,800 electricity and $1,200 for diapers. The Geraldis consume 18 gallons of milk, and 12 large pizzas weekely. Each frozen food order includes 12 packages of brocolli, 36 beef patties, 20 bags of meatballs, and 35 package [sic] of hotdogs!!”  I won’t even ask how many rolls of toilet tissue they need in a week!!!

geraldis-2In the same article is a quote by Camille Geraldi that warms my heart:

“I always keep a new baby with me every moment for the first six months to make sure we bond. Having a second child does not divide and diminish a mother’s love, the way a mathematician divides and reduces his numbers. Love is not a pound of meat that can be weighed or a truckload of bricks that can be counted. Love is not finite and measurable or bound by logical rule. Love is illogical and irrational. It is bottomless. There is plenty to go around whether there are two children or thirty-one.”

geraldis-michaelSadly, Michael Geraldi died of cancer on 08 March 2016.  Until shortly before his death, Michael continued to practice medicine full time, providing pro bono medical services for any mentally, physically or developmentally challenged child who needed it. The couple had never taken a real vacation, and were planning to do some traveling in 2015 when Michael was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos.

These two people are the epitome of humanity, of compassion, of caring for their fellow humans.  Please take a moment to visit the Possible Dream Foundation website where you can learn more about Michael and Camille, as well as see pictures and bios of some of the children they adopted. These two people truly lived their lives for others. Two thumbs up to these courageous and caring people!

When I first started this weekly feature, Good People Doing Good Things, I despaired that it would be difficult to find the kind of people I was looking for every week.  I did not just want to feature rich people who gave away a portion of their wealth as a tax write-off annually, nor did I want to feature people whose good works might have underlying motives.  I wanted people who did good things, whether large or small, simply out of the goodness of their heart, out of a sense of humanity.  I need not have worried about finding these people … every week I find more than I have the time and space to write about, and that, my friends, gives me hope that despite it all, the human race will persevere in the face of adversity.  Until next week …

 

38 thoughts on “Good People Doing Good Things – Michael and Camille Geraldi

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  3. I am truly amazed at the kind of benevolence this couple has for kids. It’s such a great feeling to know that such people do exist in some part of the world. God give the lady the courage to continue pursuing her good deeds. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story. I landed on your post through Jacqueline. Thanks to her too!

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    • Thank you so much for visiting … I write a feature of this sort every Wednesday morning, spotlighting those good people who are out there working for the good of humanity. These days, it is all too easy to forget about them, and see the world as mostly self-serving. Yes, I was blown away by the amounts of energy and time these two people gave to so many kids! It give one hope for humanity, and also inspiration to try to do just a little bit better ourselves, I think. Thanks again for visiting and for your comment!

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  5. I’m friends with this amazing family.In 1991 with my family front of the T.V. set like you see the children on spike lee’s movie Crooklyn,My mom loves watching 60’s minutes when Leslie Stahl interview This amazing nurse Camille and her husband Late Miami Pediatrician Dr.Mike Geraldi,take in unwanted and unloved babies and children born with birth defects and mentally and physically challenged that biological parents completely give away and rejected and abandoned them.I send money for the family till she invited me a week at both of her homes in Hayesville N.C.(Her big ranch home struck by lightning in North Carolina,She now has a 2nd home in Ellijay Ga near Atlanta).and her 3 house compound like you see on 60 Minutes with Leslie Stahl in Miami Fl.This is the 2nd family i’m friends with,My 1st family is John and Jeannette Murphy from Atlanta Ga,that in 1993,They did a CBS TV Made for TV movie called No Child of Mine with Late Patty Duke(Maternal Grandmother) and G.W.Bailey(Jeff Foxworthy’s Dad Big Jim on Jeff Foxworthy Show)Tracy Nelson of a true story of a couple gave birth to twins and one born Normal and other born with Down Syndrome and the couple kept the normal twin and gave The Murphy’s the down syndrome twin,Susan Blakely(Rich Man,Poor Man)and Marshall Teague(He an Actor and Martial Arts who Challeged Chuck Norris on Walker Texas Ranger)played Peggy and George Young(Murphy’s) on the movie.The Murphy’s also was on 2006 TLC Documentary Our 28 kids and on Oprah’s Big Give when Comedian Chris Rock’s Ex-wife Malaak Compton-Rock on of Oprah’s judges and visit the family. The Murphy got them a new house build for free and the twins doing o.k. the normal twin is working at a department store in Atlanta and still got the down syndrome twin now 26 years old.they still friends and keep in touch with the couple of the biological twins parents.Back to the Geraldi’s,I visit them a couple of times,They let me spend a week with them,like the Murphy’s,The Geraldi’s kids gives me hugs and kisses,I never get hugs and kisses with my real family.It’s love in both Geraldi’s and Murphy’s Homes.I was blessed friends with over 30 kids with Down Syndrome and other disabilities,All i thank is one person who now passed away is Late 13 WMAZ(CBS Affiliate in Macon Ga)Mrs. Doris Martin.She has a Down Syndrome son,his name Jay,(both Doris,her Husband and son Jay now deceased)This lady taught me love and love people with disabilities,From 1960’s -1990’s She loved being a on local Telethons from Cerebral Palsy ,Jerry Lewis MDA telethons to Children Miracle Network Telethons,In 1990’s that what got me on Telethons and will spend overnight to raised money till the next morning and God never got me sleepiness overnight till i hit the Bed the next morning,leaving overnight raising money for telethons.Now since Dr Geradi died of cancer last year in May,He was the Hugh Breadwinner supporting Possible Dream Foundation,Dr.Geraldi made enough money to support the foundation.I’m worry that i don’t want Camille’s Foundation to fall since Dr.Geraldi died and all the money he made as a pediatrician support the foundation is now gone.As me being God’s Sheep and Camille open her door bringing love and hugs to her disabled children,fear it my fall caused of maybe financial trouble since Dr Geraldi’s gone and his breadwinner Hugh salary is gone, I may had to end up doing a fund raising to help saved the foundation,I have medical problems myself as Cognitional Heart Failer and Lymedema(swelling in my legs)Like Dr.Geraldi,My life maybe short,I want to be choose as God’s Sheep once Death takes me and be in the right hand of the Father,just like Dr.Geraldi,(Matthew 25:31-40),I’m going to do something while i’m living in the World until my Father take me Home(Death),Too many People as Well as Celebrities died of Heart Failer.I’m going to do God’s will before my life expired on Earth.I don’t want Mrs.Camille give away her adopted and foster children cause her failed Possible Dream Foundation,She and Late Dr.Mike did their job to invited me to their home and this is my God Family as well as The Murphy’s as my God Family.I’m going to do what i can to put this family together,Please,If you want to donate money for Possible Dream Foundation,Go to possibledream.org,She needed Donations for her Foundation to keep her dream up float.PLEASE HELP.Thank You for your time.

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  6. Jill, thanks for sharing this. I am truly in awe of people like the Geraldis that gives so much of themselves for so long. Adopting so many children with varying needs is way beyond the call of duty. I know they must get much back from helping, but it comes with a lot of effort and devotion. Thanks, Keith

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      • Jill, I am sure they asked the older kids to shepherd the younger kids especially with so many. I had two thoughts. The younger kids would have like minded older kids showing them the ropes. The second is the parents would have to be master orchestrators to make sure they governed the roles of the older kids. I bet it was wonderfully chaotic. Keith

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        • Yes, from what I read, it was … chaotic just like any family with multiple children … but there was so much love that I could almost feel it just from reading about them. And they did have outside help also … some from volunteers, and others trained professionals paid for from donations to their foundation. But they were the base, they were the parents in every sense of the word. Heck, they even took the kids on camping trips! Now THAT takes courage! 🙂

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  8. There are indeed SO many people out there doing amazing things for others, for the environment, etc. My theory now is that we don’t hear about them because they are too busy doing good things to spend time telling people how big their brains are!

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  9. Dear Jill,
    This was an awesome post and the perfect antidote to all the disheartening news we keep hearing. I think I’ll tweet this post to some lawmakers who may have forgotten what having a heart means. I am certain that Michael and Camille, had to rely in some measure, to Medicaid.
    Hugs, Gronfa

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I think that is a great idea, to tweet it to some of the more unconscionable lawmakers … maybe even to DDT himself! I so admire these two people and all the good work they have done … we need many more like this.
      Hugs!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. It shows that ‘love’ conquers all adversity. This couple have shown more love than usual in the average person and accomplished more than entire governments. Anything is possible…only a few carry that torch! Lovely post. ❤

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