Three years ago, Laurel Giacone was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome. This potentially life-threatening connective tissue disorder affects the lungs, heart, skeletal system and eyes. Instead of letting this disease define her life, this incoming Mount Carmel freshman is taking action through volunteer service. She has many achievements in raising awareness for Marfan syndrome including raising over $6,800 for the National Marfan Foundation. Giacone and her mother began the Southeast Louisiana Network group that meets and works with others who are affected by Marfan syndrome.

Other than dedicating her time to help those with Marfan, Giacone also participates in many other volunteer efforts around New Orleans. She volunteers regularly at East Bank Regional Library by shelving books and helping the staff. This year Giacone also became involved in St. Clement of Rome’s Life Teen and was selected as a 9-10 Peer Minister for Life Teen. Giacone is also very active in her school community. She participates in several choirs, Mount Carmel’s service club, book club, drama club and television station.

Giacone’s most rewarding volunteer experience is through her work and awareness for the National Marfan Foundation. “I’ve organized many fundraisers and awareness drives from selling chocolate roses for Valentine’s Day to wrapping Christmas gifts at Barnes & Nobles,” she says. Giacone also planned “Have a Heart” day at St. Clement of Rome that educated nearly 600 attendees about this genetic disorder.

At Mount Carmel, Giacone spread awareness at a choir performance of “Seasons of Love” composed by Jonathan Larson, playwright of Rent.
“Had Larson been properly diagnosed,” she says, “his life could have been saved, and he could have seen the opening of his show. This performance provided a perfect opportunity to raise awareness of Marfan syndrome.”

“The Marfan Foundation estimates that one in 5,000 people are affected with Marfan but nearly half aren’t aware of it,” says Giacone. “I believe it is important to share my knowledge of Marfan syndrome with my community, hoping many people will be diagnosed and deaths will be prevented. I also enjoy being a strong part of my religious community to set an example to others as to how to live out your faith in your everyday life. … Helping others gives me a sense of accomplishment, knowing I have made a difference in someone’s life.”

In the near future, Giacone wants to be a Teen Group Coordinator for the Marfan Foundation and a member of the CORE team for St. Clement of Rome’s Life Teen.