In Memory of

Gabriella Debeniotis

Vienna, VA

December 17, 1998 – June 20, 2009

“Gabriella was a trusted friend. She was a great tree climber-she climbed everywhere at the drop of a hat. She was fearless. Gabriella was also an avid reader. She read the Percy Jackson series seven times and the Harry Potter series five times-not to mention tons of other books.”

“If I were President I would stop war. I would also want to stop pollution. If I can stop it, I will. I’d try to save animals and not cut down their habitats or their food or make them extinct.” These were words Gabriella would write in her school essays.

Gabriella had a love for animals, even as a toddler. Compassionate, caring and kind, Gabriella possessed an innate ability to relate to all creatures.

Gabby was loved and cherished by her family and friends, in part because of her unique gift to create special bonds with both animals and humans alike. Dogs and cats approached her without hesitation. The relationship she shared with animals was magical to watch. She had empathy and compassion for all living beings. She was the kind of girl who would gently pick up and carry cicadas, earthworms, and caterpillars out of harm’s way with gentleness and without fear.

We remember fondly when Gabriella played volleyball during tournament finals. Her team was losing by 1 point, and it was Gabriella’s turn to serve. My husband and I were worried about the pressure that she carried to ensure that her volleys kept the team in the game. Serving was not her strongest skill. She scored 5 points straight in a row with her serves and kept the team in the race! She was calm and confident, and we were so proud of her!! It truly was a great moment.

Almost 11 years later, Gabriella’s spirit resides in the hearts of all who know her or were touched by her. Even those who have never met her, feel connected to her. She made a dramatic impact in such a short life. We are so lucky and grateful to have her as our daughter. We love you Gabriella!