Dana Marella, inspiration for Dana’s Angels, dies at 19

Dana Marella posed with her family at the recent Dana's Angels benefit featuring The Beach Boys. — Cara Gilbride photo

Dana Marella posed with her family at the recent Dana’s Angels benefit featuring The Beach Boys. — Cara Gilbride photo

Dana Marella, the Greenwich resident whose battle against the deadly genetic disease known as Niemann-Pick type C (NPC) inspired many, died on Friday night according to her parents. She was 19 at the time of her death.

NPC, is an ultra rare and fatal genetic disease that has been referred to as “children’s Alzheimer’s.” The disease causes cholesterol and other fatty substances to accumulate in cells in areas like bone marrow, lungs and the brain. Ms. Marella was first diagnosed with the disease when she was eight and it gradually robbed her of her ability to walk and talk. She was confined to a wheelchair, no longer able to speak and requiring constant care when she died.

However, the fact that she even made it to 19 was hailed as a breakthrough by her parents who told the Post in a past interview that children with the disease do not typically live past their early teens.

To help their daughter as well as their son, Andrew, who also has NPC, the Marella family founded the Dana’s Angels Research Trust (DART), which holds yearly events to raise funds for critical research into treatment and finding a cure, in 2002. The Greenwich family’s fight against the disease attracted national attention and the yearly events have brought in major acts like The Beach Boys and Smokey Robinson as headliners.

According to the family, a wake will be held Monday, July 15, at the Leo P. Gallagher & Son Funeral Home at 31 Arch Street from 4 to 8 p.m. A Mass of Christian burial will then be held at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 16, at the St. Catherine of Siena Church at 4 Riverside Avenue in Riverside. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that a memorial donation be offered to the Dana’s Angels Research Trust either by mail at 15 East Putnam Avenue, #117, Greenwich, Conn. 06830 or online at DanasAngels.org.

“We are so grateful to all those whose prayers and good wishes continue to bless Dana and give our family strength,” the Marellas said in a brief statement.

The Post will have more coverage in its July 18 edition.

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