For the Love of Aimee

A Memoir

Julie Riera Matsushima

The story of a grandmother's devotion, and the courage and faith it took to help her granddaughter - diagnosed with irreparable brain damage from birth - beat the odds.

Aimee and her twin sister were the first grandchildren born to Julie Matsushima, but the family's joy at the birth quickly turned to panic when Aimee was diagnosed with irreparable brain damage. From those first heartbreaking days of Aimee's life, as Julie sat at her bedside in the neonatal intensive care unit, a special bond formed between them. Even at only a day or two old, Aimee drew Julie in with a responsiveness that seemed to defy her grim diagnosis.

For the Love of Aimee invites you to share in the disappointments, challenges, and amazing achievements Aimee and Julie experience as this grandmother and granddaughter embark on a journey to find a breakthrough for Aimee. As they travel around the world, seeking treatment and meeting many other families with children with disabilities, Aimee's enthusiasm, confidence, sense of humor, and positivity profoundly affected all who witness - in disbelief - her astounding accomplishments.

This incredible book will move and inspire you, particularly if your life has been touched by a child with special needs. Aimee's extraordinary story shows that, without a doubt, supportive and involved parents and grandparents make every difference in the lives of children with disabilities.

Julie Riera Matsushima's life took a dramatic turn with the birth of twin granddaughters in 1997. Since accompanying her three-year-old handicapped granddaughter to Poland for cutting-edge cerebral palsy therapy, Julie has tirelessly advocated for children with special needs. In 2001 she established the nonprofit That's Amore Charitable Foundation Inc. to serve children with disabilities. Owner of an interior design and consulting business and a community leader, she serves as a parks commissioner for the City of San Jose Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Services Department, where she has raised awareness for the need of adaptive and equal park play equipment. She is also on the advisory board of the Office of Therapeutic Services for the City of San Jose, which serves the needs of disabled citizens in the community.

Julie is the recipient of the prestigious Santa Clara County Medici Medallion Award for her work to make public parks and playgrounds accessible to children with special needs. Metro Silicon Valley newspaper recognized her in their annual "Profiles in Change," highlighting citizens making a difference, and she has been featured in the San Jose Business Journal, The Rosegarden, and WIllow Glen Resident, and Image Magazine, among other local publications.

Julie lives in the heart of Silicon Valley with her husband, Mel, and their beloved dog, Griffith. She travels the 150-mile round trip to Modesto, California, regularly to visit with her grandchildren and participate in their activities. She is currently doing research for her second book.