Homecoming celebration held for Justina Pelletier
BY MIKE KRAFCIK
NEW HAVEN– It's been two months since the custody battle over Justina Pelletier came to an end.
The West Hartford teenager endured 16 months of forced separation from her friends and family, including parents Lou and Linda, and sisters Jennifer, Jessica and Julia.
A judge granted her parents full custody back in June. It all began with a disagreement over the teen's medical diagnosis.
On Sunday night, a sweet sixteen and welcome home party was held for Justina Pelletier at Anthony's Ocean View in New Haven.
Justina's celebration was called the" Sparkling Homecoming Party." The party's theme, "no one can ever dull Justina's sparkle,"
Like most other teenagers who look forward to a party in their honor, Justina had anxiously anticipated this glittery celebration.
"They've treated me so well. I feel like I'm a princess with a tiara," said Justina.
The Celebration brought more than 100 people to the event which included an auction and raffle prizes.
"It's more of a welcome home party. She's missed so many holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Easter and all the religious holidays," said Lou Pelletier, Justina's father.
Justina's family, friends and her supporters– some came from other parts to the country to see Justina.
Several others who couldn't be there left their own video messages and words of encouragement. A man in one of the tributes told Justina "the sparkle of your spirit and your heart will make everything else seem dull."
"She's so happy to have people here that have been fighting for, friends, family, people she's never met before," said Lou Pelletier.
Sunday marked the first time state senator Joe Markley met Justina in-person.
State Sen. Markley helped work with the Massachusetts DCF and the state of Connecticut to help Justina get back home.
Justina was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease by doctors at Tufts Medical Center years ago, a condition causing muscle pain and weakness.
When she was admitted to Boston Children's Hospital with the flu last year, doctors said she had somatoform disorder, a mental condition.
The custody battle began when her parents disagreed with a new medical diagnosis and were accused of medical child abuse.
"The situation was already happening when it came to my attention, so it's a pleasure to see her and to see her looking so good and looking so happy," said Sen. Markely.
Justina's parents say she has started physical therapy at home and will soon attend school in West Hartford.
"Right now getting her on a recovery trail, getting her through physical therapy and all those things going. It's going to be a long process," said Lou Pelletier.
The family hopes event's like Sunday's celebration will allow to build up more confidence after spending all that time in the hospital.
"It might take a long time, but I know I have a lot of people cheering me on," said Justina.
Justina and her family recently traveled to Washington D.C. to advocate for "Justina's Law"– a bill aimed at protecting children from a similar fate as Justina.
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