Always making a difference.
Tori Lynn Andreozzi’s mother, Cathy, describes her as the bravest, most courageous and inspiring person she’s ever known. Tori has overcome severe physical injuries, and struggles with the devastating consequences of a debilitating brain injury she sustained in 2003 when she was hit by a drunk driver as she walked home from her school bus one spring day.
Before the accident, Tori was a straight-A student who never said an unkind word about anyone, the glue that held together her tight-knit circle of friends, an accomplished and dedicated athlete, and a loyal and loving sister and daughter. People were drawn to her, and younger children looked up to her and were eager to be near her. She had a sharp wit and loved to tell jokes. Her laughter filled a room. But perhaps her most marked characteristic was her generous spirit. She seemed to have an intuitive understanding of others’ needs, and she did what was in her power to help them.
Tori recognized those who society tends to ignore – a sad child, a disabled woman, a homeless man – and made sure they felt that they were important. She believed in the concept of paying it forward and gave selflessly with the hope that her good deeds would radiate outward rather than return to her. Tori routinely would let her friends go off to play without her in favor of paying attention to a disabled child, and she always acted as the protector when she saw another child being bullied. Tori once learned sign language so that she could communicate with an elderly deaf woman who worked at her local grocery store. And her mother fondly recalls a time when she, along with her adult friends, gave their children money to buy candy. All of the children returned with candy in their hands, except for five-year-old Tori who returned with nothing but the sense of satisfaction she gained by giving her candy money to a homeless man.
Today, Tori lives at home with her mother in a minimally conscious state, unable to walk, speak, or eat. She is in no way the little girl she was when she got off the bus on that spring day in 2003, yet energy continues to radiate from her. Even today, she gives.