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Off to a fighting start 

Seven months ago, Jamie Maraviglia-Manalo was dealing with something no parent should; she was watching her seven-week-old daughter Naya struggle for life. Naya could not fight any longer and eventually passed, leaving a void in Maraviglia-Manalo.

click to enlarge BLING FOR THE CAUSE:  Jamie Maraviglia-Manalo and her husband Dan Manalo are selling bracelets to raise money for the March of Dimes, to help babies begin healthy lives. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • BLING FOR THE CAUSE: Jamie Maraviglia-Manalo and her husband Dan Manalo are selling bracelets to raise money for the March of Dimes, to help babies begin healthy lives.

Today, Maraviglia-Manalo is turning this awful experience into something positive. She is working with March of Dimes to raise funds to support research and programs that help moms have full-term pregnancies and babies begin healthy lives.

Maraviglia-Manalo and her team will be driving to San Ramon on April 28 to attend the March of Dimes. Team Naya’s Papaya is one of the top fundraisers in the country, and they are accepting donations until mid-June.

“I need to change our goal again. I’ve changed it maybe four or five times since I set it up,” said Maraviglia-Manalo about their fundraising goal. “I had our original goal at $2,500, and we hit that so fast. I think now we are at $2,000 but I may need to up that again.”

Before she turned her efforts towards March of Dimes, Maraviglia-Manalo did everything to save Naya. She had to travel to Santa Barbara for Naya’s surgery, because there are no SLO County facilities available to operate on infants.

In Santa Barbara, Maraviglia-Manalo received more bad news when she learned that Naya had sepsis, a severe illness in which the bloodstream is overwhelmed with bacteria. Santa Barbara’s facilities could not take care of Naya so she was airlifted to Los Angeles, where she struggled for several weeks. Maraviglia-Manalo began blogging about the experience in order to cope and on Sept. 14, 2011 she posted ee cummings’ “i carry your heart with me” to heart-breakingly announce her loss.

“i carry your heart with me (i carry it in/ my heart) i am never without it (anywhere/ i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done/ by only me is your doing, my darling,” the first paragraph reads.

“You realize how fragile life is, and you have to take it day by day,” said Maraviglia-Manalo.

This new outlook has driven Maraviglia-Manalo to do anything in her power to raise funds to help parents and babies in similar situations.

Aside from raising thousands of dollars, Maraviglia-Manalo is working with March of Dimes to pass legislative acts; she is attempting to bring the march to San Luis Obispo next year, and in December she will hold a candlelight memorial for parents to remember their lost children.

“My goal is to turn something awful into something positive. We have to make a conscious decision to not sit around and wallow in everything that happened; which, don’t get me wrong, we are,” said Maraviglia-Manalo. “There are ways to honor her, to make her life meaningful; to cause change; to cause people to help other people. That’s my philosophy. Plus it keeps me busy.”

Maraviglia-Manalo wants to continue working with March of Dimes and reaching out to parents with lost children. A link to donate to Team Naya’s Papayas and to purchase a bracelet can be found on Maraviglia-Manalo’s blog at

Fast Fact

Want to be a hero? Join Rev Slo on April 28 for the Be A Hero spin event. The Wish Upon a Hero Foundation grants wishes to children living with cancer, helps military families, provides meals to the less fortunate, provides medical needs and devices to families, and does homeless prevention. Rev SLO is hosting a day full of 45-minute spin classes where people can come and rent one of 15 bikes for one class. The proceeds go to The Wish Upon a Hero Foundation. It is $25 minimum, and with that you get a great spin workout, a t-shirt and the feeling you helped someone in need. The spin event is held on April 28 at Rev SLO on 755 Alphonso St.

Intern David Yriarte compiled this week’s Strokes & Plugs. Send your business and nonprofit news to

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