The annual Gabriella's Scoop Night raised hope and money for the Connecticut Children's Medical Center (CCMC).
The fundraiser was held at Blue Back Square, on Aug. 31, with Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream as co-sponsors.
Scoop Night was founded by Gabriella Giordano, 14, who underwent successful open-heart surgery when she was four years old. The procedure corrected a congenital heart defect, and she never forgot the excellent care she received at CCMC.
Proceeds from Scoop Night will benefit CCMC's cardiology division.
Gabriella was undergoing a preoperative examination at three years old when doctors found a large hole in the upper-left chamber of her heart. She also suffers from congenital cataracts, which require periodic operations and treatments.
"They (CCMC) did such an amazing job and they were so kind and generous, I wanted to give back to all those other kids that are going through the same thing I did," Giordano said. "We wanted to raise money for the division of cardiology so more kids can get their hearts fixed, just like me."
Her heart was repaired between cataract surgeries.
The Giordano family held the first scoop event at the Ben and Jerry's on Main Street, collecting more than $1,000 in donations. Scoop Night coincides with Giordano's birthday.
With no physical limitations, Gabriella joined the Hall High School swim team this year. She compares swimming to overcoming physical obstacles, like her heart and cataract surgeries.
"You get tired, but you see the finish and you know you're going to get there," she said.
She also dances and has played soccer in the past. Giordano plans on becoming an elementary school teacher.
Her mother, Adria, suggested expanding the event and inviting local celebrity scoopers, which includes Giordano's cardiologist and school teachers.
"They mean a lot to us, and they helped Gabriella grow to become the person she is today," said Adria Giordano.
Adria Giordano praised her daughter's compassion and commitment to children's causes.
Dr. Felice Heller, Giordano's chief cardiologist, said, "She has this extraordinary desire to give back to the people that helped her and to give back to other children that are facing the same difficulties she went through as a child."
Heller added, "She learns a lot of her compassion from her parents. They've also been extraordinary supporters of our hospital."
Heller recommended fixing heart defects when a child is young and healthy. Such conditions can worsen when entering adulthood.
Helen DelMastro, who owns the Ben and Jerry's shop at 5 1/2 South Main St., said Giordano remains "passionate" about Scoop Night. The shop also hosts a free cone day annually, with proceeds going to CCMC.
"This is what Ben and Jerry's is all about. We have a three-part mission statement, and part of that is giving back to anybody that asks," DelMastro said.
The shop participates in fundraisers throughout the year.