HomeCherry Hill NewsCherry Hill girl named South Jersey ambassador for March of Dimes

Cherry Hill girl named South Jersey ambassador for March of Dimes

One young Cherry Hill girl is readying to fulfill her role as the South Jersey ambassador at the March of Dimes on Sunday, April 28.

Gianna Koulas, 9, fought for her life as an infant and now spends her time giving back, while cultivating her sense of adventure. March of Dimes is an organization that seeks to curtail premature births.

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“This is our 10th year walking,” Angela Christman, Gianna’s mom, said of her family team.

Born on Aug. 5, 2003, weighing 1 pound 12 ounces at 25 weeks gestation, Gianna spent 129 days in the neonatal intensive care unit of Virtua Hospital.

“While in the NICU, she required a heart surgery, laser eye surgery and several blood transfusions,” Christman writes on her fundraising webpage. “She spent an extensive amount of time on a ventilator and did not take a bottle until she was over 3 months old.

“Gianna’s due date was Nov. 17. She came home Dec. 10, 2003.”

Now, at the new Voorhees location of Virtua, she is one of the success stories framed on the wall.

“She was very, very worried about me,” Gianna said of her mom.

Christman began volunteering with the March of Dimes doing educational outreach as soon as Gianna left the hospital. She had originally gone to school for business marketing and was doing administrative work at the time.

“After she was born, I knew immediately that I wanted to go into nursing,” she said.

Christman said she wanted to turn a frightening experience into something positive. She graduated in December 2010 and now works at Virtua in a temporary, part-time position in addition to her nursing career.

“It’s nice to have a job that you’re really passionate about,” she said.

Gianna was the Camden County ambassador for the March of Dimes last year and was in the finals for a national recognition this spring.

“Like many other women, I do not know why I went into labor early,” Christman wrote on the fundraising page. “I did everything I was supposed to do, but despite my best efforts for a healthy pregnancy, I went into labor early.

“Thankfully, Gianna is now a happy, healthy little girl who is excelling in school and sports. She is visually impaired and has some slight respiratory complications, but that does not slow her down or hold her back.”

Ask Gianna for her favorite hobbies and she will easily slide through a list, nearly memorized, from kayaking, to swimming, hiking and skiing, to writing and learning math in school.

As she spoke to The Sun, the fourth-grader said she was readying for the NJ ASK test at Joyce Kilmer Elementary School.

This year’s walk in Camden County will be held on Sunday, April 28 beginning at 10 a.m. Registration starts at 9 a.m.

It is being held at Virtua Hospital, 100 Bowman Drive in Voorhees.

To donate or learn more, visit www.marchforbabies.org/personal_page.asp?pp=3220224&ct=4&w=5930764&u=GiannaKoulas or www.facebook.com/Giannasstory?fref=ts.

Get involved with the March of Dimes at www.marchofdimes.com.


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