South Florida women work to raise awareness of Rett Syndrome


The history of medicine can be seen in people working hand-inhand with scientists to raise awareness on the search for medical miracles, so here are some latest dispatches from the front.

Although I’ve been a health writer for nearly two decades now, I must confess I was ignorant about Rett Syndrome, that is until I met Gisel Gonzalez, of Miami, and learned about her sweet little girl Gia.

Although Gia appeared normal at birth, as she grew, her development slowed and Gisel, or Gigi, as she is known, began searching for an explanation. Doctors gave her several, but when Gia was three-and-a-half, she learned the truth; her beloved baby had been born with Rett syndrome.

Rett is a dreaded diagnosis. This rare neurological disorder is seen only in girls because boy babies who inherit it do not survive. But survival is not necessarily a blessing; girls with

Sabrina Cohen discussing medical innovations at Burke Rehabilitation Center.

Rett syndrome fail to develop in almost every meaningful way; they can’t talk, and they lack muscle tone and, hence, motor skills. They may also develop seizures, uncoordinated breathing and social anxiety.

It is a devastating diagnosis, but Gigi and her sister, Teri Rios, of Fort Lauderdale, are not giving up home. Instead, they are forming a nonprofit organization called “God’s Innocent Angels,” to raise awareness of Rett Syndrome and ultimately build a center to help other families.

On Oct. 13, they held a lavish Circus-based fundraiser at Briza on the Bay, but their efforts continue year around, so visit their web page, Gods Innocent Angels, at, where you’ll also find a link for more information on Rett syndrome.

Sabrina Cohen at the Women Doing Good Awards dinner in New York City

You can also watch a video of Gia on You Tube –just search for God’s Innocent Angels Rett Syndrome and it will pop up. Or simply Google my name, and Rett to read my full column about these remarkable women and the little girl for whom they fight. The video of Gia is unforgettable.


Speaking of medical miracles, those that come from the laboratory can be amazing, and today came news that the Nobel Prize for Medicine has gone to two scientists whose work are enabling researchers to “turn back time,” and fashion new cells to help cure disease. As the Wall Street journal put it, “The ability to pull off this trick-the biological equivalent of turning back time-ranks as one of the more head-spinning feats of modern science.”

Gia Gonzalez

No one is happier to hear this news than our own Sabrina Cohen, who just returned from her own headspinning trip to New York City, where she was honored as one of SELF magazine’s “Women Doing Good.” There, she was treated to a makeover, appeared on the Today Show and was honored at a tribute dinner alongside celebrity winner Jessica Alba.

But parties were not the only things on Cohen’s mind in Manhattan. That week, she also traveled to White Plains, New York, where she was an invited guest at the ribbon cutting of the new neuroscience building at the Burke Rehabilitation Center in White Plains. Once traditionally focused on rehabilitation, Burke has spent $7 million on its new regenerative medicine laboratories to bridge the gap between medical research and those working with patients to find new methods and techniques to help in the treatment of neurological ailments like paralysis, Parkinson’s disease and stroke.

By the way, this Halloween marks the 20th year that Cohen was injured in a disastrous car crash on Alton Road, when the car the 14 year-old was riding in struck a tree. The accident was the result of a drag racing accident, and, ever since then, Cohen has spent a good portion of her time speaking to other youngsters about staying safe.

Medical history is written of miracles, so we can only hope and, in the meantime, do all we can for the scientists working to find cures for Rett Syndrome and paralysis.

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The 3rd Annual South Beach Seafood Festival, presented by Hess Wines and hosted by Coca-Cola, will hit the sands of South Beach October 21-24, 2015, with the main festival to be held Saturday, October 24 from 1-9PM at 7th and Ocean Drive in Lummus Park. Events will be happening all week to showcase the great local culinary talent of Miami and Miami Beach and kick off Miami’s favorite season, Stone Crab Season. Events will be happening all week to showcase the great local culinary talent of Miami and Miami Beach and kick off Miami’s favorite season, Stone Crab Season. Events will begin on Wednesday night with the Hess Select Wine Pairing Evening at Joe’s Stone Crab, Thursday night is the GOYA Foods’s Cooking & Cocktails Interactive Dinner, hosted by STOLI, the Vodka, Friday night is the annual Chef Showdown, sponsored by Range Rover, Whole Foods, & Bacardi, and Saturday features the all-day South Beach Seafood Festival. In addition to promoting all the local culinary talent in the area, the event benefits Community Initiatives Foundation in support of the EAT SMART Campaign to fight against childhood hunger, childhood obesity, and assisting the community to find the perfect balance through nutritional awareness & individual development in Miami Dade County. The festival is proud to announce the current participating restaurants at this year’s Main Event, the Saturday All Day Festival. What makes us unique? These top Miami restaurants and chefs will pop up mini café’s on the sand to create not a sampling event, but an EATING Paradise with over 50 Menu Items for seafoodies to choose from and indulge for ONE Day Only. This year’s participating restaurants at the Saturday October 24th festival include Joe’s Stone Crabs, Naked Taco, Red, the Steakhouse, Smith & Wollensky, Red Fish Grill, CJs Crab Shack, Drunken Dragon, A Fish Called Avalon, Oceanaire, City Hall the Restaurant, CIBO, Tarpon Bend, Poseidon, and Whole Foods. Guests will dive in to items like Stone Crabs, Lobster Waffle Cones, Steak & Lobster Skewers, Shrimp Tacos, Oysters, Shrimp Cocktail, Gyros, Crab Cakes, Grouper in a Bag, Lobster Mac ‘N Cheese and more. These delicious menu items are available for guests between $5-$10. Thousands will flock to the sands of SoBe on October 24th to experience these seasonal selections of Miami’s top chefs and restaurants. The festival also features live music, culinary and mixology demonstrations, a kids zone, health village, and VIP hospitality benefits for the all access guests. There is fun for all ages with countless interactive zones, retail villages, and more. Festival major sponsors include title sponsor, Hess Select Wines, supporting title sponsors, Premier Beverage, Bacardi, Stoli the Vodka, and Herradura, presenting sponsors Coca-Cola, GOYA, Range Rover and the Warren Henry Automotive Group, and hosting sponsors Heineken Light and Whole Foods Market, among others. For a limited time- EARLY BITE Tickets start at $25 Festival Access. This year, ALL Festival Access tickets include complimentary all day open bar*. For more information & to purchase tickets, please visit, follow us @SobeSeafoodFeston Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Check out our #SobeSeafood! To celebrate this announcement, Sobe Seafood Fest in partnership with Guerra Marketing is launching a giveaway contest valued at $3,800. Get ready to enter to win the: CHEF STONEY’S #AREYOUSHUCKINGME VIP EXPERIENCE, which includes package tickets for the VIP tickets for the weekend events, a 2 night stay at the W Hotel South Beach, restaurant certificates, Hess Wine gift baskets, beach lounges, Boucher Brothers Management jetski rides, cooking classes, and more.

3rd Annual South Beach Seafood Festival returns

The 3rd Annual South Beach Seafood Festival, presented by Hess Wines and hosted by Coca-Cola, ...