Mariana Maniscalco

Mariana Maniscalco hold her book “If Your Head Can’t Your Heart Will,” which will be showcased at a book signing and red carpet Wednesday at Room on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo.  Photo by Michele DeLuca/Staff.

“I live my life the way you jump into a pool. For a while you sit and think about it, but all that really matters is the micro-second you have of bravery to convince yourself to actually do it. Once that feeling hits you, it’s not until you’re mid-air that you realize what you just did. And by the time you do, it’s too late. The most wonderful part of this though is the moment you hit the water. No matter how much you like or dislike it, jumping was the better decision. No one remembers the times you didn’t jump.”

Mariana Maniscalco 

Mariana Maniscalco was a perfectly healthy 13-year-old when a rare bacterial infection invaded her body. Doctors thought it was the flu and by the time they understood the grave danger she was in, she required three brain surgeries and open-heart surgery to begin healing — but not before a stroke paralyzed the left side of her body.

It was a long and arduous journey to wellness and during her healing someone nominated her to the Make a Wish foundation, which makes dreams come true for children with life-threatening illnesses.

Her wish was to publish a book and her wish was granted by the foundation. That book “If Your Head Can’t Your Heart Will,” will be showcased at a book signing and red carpet event to be held on World Wish Day on Wednesday at Room in Buffalo.

Mariana, now a 16-year-old junior at Kenmore East High School, has written an funny, inspirational book that she hopes will send a message to readers.

“I always knew I wanted to write,” she said during a recent interview in her Tonawanda home. “I just didn’t know what I wanted to write about.”

The health crisis left her grateful to be alive, and she wants everyone to know it, especially those who don’t have to fight to live.

“I’m really excited to get my story out there and give back to Make a Wish and to the kids who are even sicker than me,” she said. “I hope people will be grateful for everything they have because I know. I’ve learned I’m really lucky.”

Her dad, Mark Gaughan, a sports reporter for the Buffalo News, was impressed by his daughter’s skills. “I was surprised at how well she was able to blend very difficult moments with a sense of humor and positivity,” he said, adding, “I wouldn’t characterize it as a kid’s book. I think anyone can enjoy the story.”

The proceeds from the sale of the book will go to Make a Wish. Kate Glaser, a spokesperson for the foundation said that Mariana’s generosity is part of what makes her story so compelling. “We were so inspired by her,” Glaser said. “She really has an amazing story to tell.”

The red carpet event and book signing will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. at Room, 1400 Hertel Ave., Buffalo. The book is $11. To reserve a copy or for more information, email Mark Gaughan at:

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