April 9, 2008

Melissa Ann Riggio 1988-2008


It is with deep sadness that we tell you of the loss of 20-year old Melissa Ann Riggio. She passed away peacefully on, Monday, April 7, at 6:00 a.m. at University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell in Manhattan. She was surrounded by her parents, sisters, aunts and uncles, and cousins.

As so many of you know, Melissa was diagnosed with leukemia last summer and since that time she fought long and hard to overcome the disease. Last June, she graduated from Bernards High School in Bernardsville, New Jersey, where she was crowned Prom Queen. Melissa was so grateful to the many people who reached out to offer their support by donating blood, platelets, and sending cards and letters. Through it all, Melissa remained strong and optimistic. She was an inspiration to everyone who had the opportunity to know her.

Although Melissa was born with Down Syndrome, she lived a full and extraordinary life. Melissa worked at the YMCA in Basking Ridge and recently talked about entering a post secondary program so that she could become a counselor at the YMCA. She loved to read and listen to music, and she loved to write. Melissa was a poet and songwriter. Melissa was taking voice, drama, and dance lessons as she also aspired to become a singer one day. Some of Melissa’s songs were recorded by acclaimed singer/songwriter, Rachel Fuller.

In her song entitled, "The Ring," Melissa expressed her thoughts on being a woman and her purpose:

I’m in the Ring outside
I’m following my belief
I’m looking at the sky
I saw God following my heart
I’m an ordinary woman

The Ring is falling down my way
The wind is blowing me away
The Ring is falling down,
Down my way
The wind is blowing me away

And so I came back to
The center of the Ring
Am I just a broken angel?
God has sent me here to heal
To be an ordinary woman.

January 31, 2007

Me and my friend Rachel Fuller

Rachel is a good friend - she has helped me develop my talent as a singer songwriter. Without her encouragement and wisdom, my dreams would have stayed just dreams. Thanks Rachel, you're the best.