By McKinley Corbley
Over the course of the last four decades, Michael and Camille Geraldi have become the legal guardians of 88 special needs children and adults.
Ever since the couple first met in 1973 at the Miami Children’s Hospital, they knew that they were destined to care for kids. As Camille worked as a nurse, and Michael toiled as a pediatrician, they dedicated their careers to healing and watching over the young patients – some of whom had special needs and had been abandoned by their parents. Michael was renown for offering his services to low-income families free of charge, while Camille often spent late nights at the hospital reading to disabled children.
After they got married two years later, the lovebirds started adopting the disabled orphans from the hospital. The children were diagnosed with everything from autism to cerebral palsy, facial deformities to Down syndrome – whatever the difficulty, the Geraldis loved them all.
“I love these kids,” Camille told Good News Network. “Though it can be challenging, draining, exhausting work, when you have your faith you just keep going.”
By the time they had adopted 18 children – and gave birth to three of their own – they started the Possible Dream Foundation: a nonprofit to help finance their children’s futures, rehabilitation, education, work training, and treatment.
While Michael’s salaried income paid for most of their expenses, the family still needed assistance as their brood expanded in the 90s to include 31 youngsters. Their circumstances seemed even more dire after their Miami, Florida home was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew.
The Geraldis then moved to a farm in North Carolina where many of the children grew up to graduate from high school and became certified dog trainers.
The family suffered another disaster in 2011, however, when their farm was struck my lightning, causing a house fire that burned everything to the ground. But good fortune stepped in and they were offered a home in Georgia, which they made handicapped-accessible using the insurance money from their previous home.
Camille is now 68 years old – and even though she lost Michael to an aggressive cancer last year, she still has a mighty spirit for taking care of the children alongside a large team of volunteers.
How does she stay so motivated? Camille gives credit to divine inspiration.
“I think sometimes you’re just cut out to do it or you’re not” she says. “I do know that I’m doing God’s work—he plans the day and I just carry it out. He motivates me along the way.”
“I usually wear a mustard seed pinned to my shirt, and when I’m feeling drained and need a push, I touch it and he gives me the the energy and determination I need to make it through the hard times and the adversity.”
Even more striking than the years of intensive parenting and hospice care, is the fact that Camille had never taken time for a vacation until very recently.
She and Mike had planned to go on a cruise for their 40th wedding anniversary, taking their “first vacation ever,” but because of his diagnosis they had to cancel. This year she finally was able to relax on a seven-day trip.
Despite all the hardships, Camille continues to care for the Geraldi family with compassion, love, and unwavering selflessness.