Feb. 23, 2022 By Michael Dorgan and Christian Murray
A GoFundMe page has been launched for a Long Island City music teacher who broke his neck in a freak accident earlier this month that has left him paralyzed.
Gerasimos (Gerry) Gianutsos, known as “Mr. G” to his students at PS/IS 78Q in Hunters Point, was in front of his Dix Hills, Long Island, home getting his kids ready to go sledding when he slipped and hit his head on the ground on Feb. 13.
Gianutsos, 46, who was raised in Sunnyside and has taught at the Center Boulevard school for 20 years, suffered severe injuries to his vertebrae and he has lost all feeling from his chest down.
He is currently undergoing a series of surgeries at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffolk County and requires a ventilator to breathe. He has not spoken since the accident.
Gianutsos’ long-term prognosis is unclear, but his family says he will likely be paralyzed for the rest of his life. He is expected to remain in the hospital for a few more weeks — and will require a wheelchair upon his release.
Gianutsos is married with three children aged 5, 7 and 10 years old. His mother, Dr. Rosamond Gianutsos, is on the executive board of Community Board 2 and raised him with her late husband in Sunnyside.
Gerry spent his entire childhood in Sunnyside and attended P.S. 11 school on Skillman Avenue. He moved to the suburbs on Long Island after getting married to his wife Kristi.
The GoFundMe has brought in nearly $65,000 from around 470 donors since it was launched last week – with a target of $125,000. One anonymous donor contributed $1,000.
“The number of students and parents of students who have donated is very touching,” said Dr. Rosamond Gianutsos. “Some of the amounts are not small either.”
Rosamond said her son’s “life altering” accident is a tremendous loss to the community. She said she has great memories of being with her son at Gantry Plaza State Park and hearing children enthusiastically yelling out: “Hey, Mr. G.”
“This just shows you how fragile life is,” Dr Rosamond said. “No one is to blame here; he simply slipped.”
Dr. Rosamond said that he has been able to move his arms near his shoulder area, but at this point has no feeling in his fingers or legs. He has been raising his eyebrows to visitors. “I presume he will be able to talk [when he is off the ventilator] and maybe he will be able to teach remotely one day.”
The funds raised will be used to cover medical expenses and to retrofit the family home to make it wheelchair accessible, according to Danielle Gonzalez, Gianutsos’ sister-in-law who created the GoFundMe.
Gonzalez wrote that a ramp will have to be installed at the front of his home in order for Gianutsos to gain access to the premises. The family will also need to purchase a specialized vehicle to transport him to various appointments, she wrote. Furthermore, Gianutsos will likely need ongoing care and help with everyday tasks.
“The last 48 hours have been filled with so many emotions, shock, and disbelief,” Gonzalez wrote on the Go Fund Me page last week. Gonzalez is Kristi’s sister.
“We are heartbroken for their children and conversations they will have… to explain to [them] that there will be a new ‘normal’ for their daddy,” she wrote. “Please consider making a donation to support Gerry and his family on this long journey to recovery.”
Kelly Craig, P.S./I.S. 78Q PTA President, said that the whole community has been in shock since the news of the freak accident spread.
“Gerry is absolutely beloved by students, teachers, staff and parents; he is the heart of our school community,” Craig said.
Craig said that Gianutsos plays many musical instruments and also sings, noting that music is his passion. His music and lessons can be found at mistergmusic.com
She said that the Long Island City community is rallying around the Gianutsos family by donating to the fund with other fundraising initiatives being organized to support them.
For instance, the PTA is partnering with LIC Relief – a local group that has been providing food to hard-hit residents during the pandemic – to host a fundraising event at the end of March to generate funds for Gianutsos and his family, according to Craig.
Craig said the event will feature local musicians and students from P.S./I.S. 78Q.