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Published: May 15, 2019
Troy’s Journey: From Surviving to Thriving

Photo of Colleen and Troy Gagliardi

Photo of Colleen and Troy Gagliardiby Amber Carlton


Troy is an energetic, outgoing 12-year-old boy with a mischievous smile, a quick wit, a big heart, and a love for snowboarding. Looking at him today, it’s hard to believe that it’s something of a miracle that he’s alive. His mother’s uterus ruptured while she was in labor and he was without oxygen for over 20 minutes, resulting in several disabilities including a traumatic brain injury (TBI), a seizure disorder, Tourette Syndrome, and autism. But despite the odds, Troy not only survived, he has thrived!

Troy’s parents, Mike and Colleen Gagliardi, attribute much of Troy’s progress to a Medicaid waiver that allows them to act as paid caregivers through The Independence Center. Colleen is now able to stay at home with Troy to provide him with the hours of therapy he requires each day. Mike, who has a full-time job in I.T., acts as her backup. Because they can devote much more time to their son, Colleen says that “Troy has come so far.”

The program, which pays the Gagliardis for the hours that go above and beyond their normal parenting responsibilities, has been a “godsend,” says Colleen. “The Independence Center has been great as a job. But I really do believe they care about us, and I know they care about Troy. We love the communication, the training, and the fact that they know us the way that they do. That really sets them apart.”

The couple encourages others who are caring for loved ones with disabilities to investigate the paid caregiver program. Mike adds, “Why would you not use everything that you can to take care of your loved one?”

For more information on becoming a paid caregiver, call 719-471-8181.

TBI Facts

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are a “major cause of death and disability in the U.S.” Falls are the leading cause of TBIs; however, they can be caused by any blow or jolt to the head, or can be the result of a stroke, vascular malformations/anomalies, or neonatal/perinatal/developmental injuries. Those who survive a TBI may feel the effects for a few days or the rest of their lives, including difficulty with memory or thinking, vision, hearing, movement, and personality changes or depression.

What Is Tourette Syndrome?

Troy is one of thousands of school-age children in the U.S. living with Tourette Syndrome (TS). A condition of the nervous system, it causes “tics,” which present as repeated twitches, movements, or sounds that can’t be controlled. While there is no cure for TS, there are treatments that can help. Learn more at

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