2011-08-05 / Front Page

HEROES AMONG US

Joe Bodanza brings happiness to children
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY MICHAEL FLETCHER


Joe Bodanza is pictured with Luan K. Nguyen, who has been staying with Joe for a few years now. Luan will be graduating from Mount Wachusett Community College soon. Joe Bodanza is pictured with Luan K. Nguyen, who has been staying with Joe for a few years now. Luan will be graduating from Mount Wachusett Community College soon. You’d be hard pressed to find a more caring or generous person than Joseph Bodanza. Right here in Leominster, just off of Viscoloid Avenue, Joe has housed and helped over 100 Vietnamese children who were at one point stricken with polio, covered in burns, or even missing limbs – largely at his own expense.

“Mr. Joe”, as the children he has helped refer to him, is no stranger to polio – he was diagnosed with it at the age of eight. He was cured, though the traumatic memories stuck with him until 1996 when he accompanied a friend on a trip to Vietnam.

While there, he witnessed the sad truth that many children in impoverished villages also suffer from polio. Here, however, they received no medical treatment, and loss of limbs or even death was the only fate awaiting these children. Joe was moved by this, and he couldn’t help but bring a single child back with him to be treated – a move that would end up setting the course for the rest of his life.

That single act of kindness Joe committed those 15 years ago led to the eventual creation of Child Medical Connection Inc., a nonprofit organization founded by Joe himself which is dedicated to helping Vietnamese children in need. To this day, he has brought over 100 children over to the United States, and in association with Shriners Hospital for Children they have

Recently, Joe’s focus has shifted from bringing kids to the United States for medical treatment to helping them stay in school in Vietnam. Currently, he sponsors around 300 children there, providing their schooling expenses. This way, he received millions of dollars worth of care at no cost whatsoever.

However, while the healthcare is free, other expenses arising from everyday living and travel can be immense. Joe, out of the goodness of his heart, has paid all of these expenses with his own savings and some donations. helps ensure a brighter future for them while allowing them to remain in their homes.

Joseph Bodanza is truly a hero among us. He’s helped hundreds of kids, all of whom have benefited from his aid and friendship, and he plans to continue doing so.

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