By Dawn M. Chiossi
Destiny is what you make it. This is the inspiring message of Warrior Heart, a book from Pompton Plains resident, and would-be-author, Tim Liveilli. More than just a title, it’s a mantra for his whole life.
Warm and gregarious with a story to tell, Liveilli is like most writers out there; people know him, people like him. Born three months premature, doctors originally had no hope for this young man. But even then, Livelli defied the odds–he had literally passed away three times, fighting all the way back each time. Due to a bleed in the brain, he has virtually no cerebellum. This is the part of the brain that controls movement and motor function. The doctors had diagnosed that he essentially would be a vegetable.
Their negativity was just unacceptable to his mother. With a deep faith in God and a bachelor’s degree in speech therapy, she had other ideas for her and her son. “I thought Tim himself would teach me what he could and could not do.” Margie Livelli asserts.
She was right. Now at 42 years old, Tim Livelli is far from being a vegetable. Although Margie Livelli says that he has some neurological impairment, he does not let it affect him at all. Through discipline, therapies, and sheer determination, Tim has come through so much. “He’s worked hard,” she praises. “The motor function of his brain has been rerouted.”
To date, Tim has had five open-heart surgeries (the first when he was only five), walks independently, has worked with and rides horses, and has a brown belt in karate. He’s kind, caring, with a sense of humor. He’s a real people person, someone who loves dogs, and is independent. His mother relates that he’s had extensive life skills training and that he has worked at Rocking Horse Rehab in West Orange and is currently a dog-walker in the area. “He’s very sure of himself,” she tells.
In fact, Liveilli has a warrior’s heart. In his own words, Tim is very much like everyone else. “I am a young man who enjoys horses, dolphins, martial arts. I enjoy watching TV, especially medical, nature, and vet shows. I’m a trekkie,” he tells.
Most importantly he wants to inspire others. For 10 years, he has been working on his book. Warrior Heart is a candid perspective that makes clear that destiny is what you make it. “I wanted to make sure parents of special needs children know that doctors can’t predict everything,” Tim asserts. “They need to go on with their children and work with them. Parents need to encourage and be there for them. “
In writing his book he realized that the first five years of his life were a “real struggle, filled with lots of challenges.” In fact, Tim shares that it was his most favorite part of the book. In particular, he writes about a time when his mom was trying to get him to crawl on the beach. “It (the scene) shows that people need to be advocates for their children, they have to be a voice for them and fight for them.”
With an uplifting message that has the power to reach so many, Tim had the idea to create a GoFundMe page to help realize his dream of getting his story published. Starting the fundraising campaign last year, it has raised $1,085 so far of the $7,000 goal (an estimate from a publishing house.) “I felt it was my only way to get financial help to publish the book as well as getting people to read it,” Tim says.
“Tim’s story is very moving. It shows glimpses of what he has gone through.” Margie Livelli relates. “Tim has been so involved and steadfast in wanting to get this book done. He feels there is a need for it in the world. The kids all need a chance to prove themselves. That is what he wants the parents to remember.”
What’s next for Warrior Heart? “We will send the book off to the publishers and they will look at it and decide if it is worthy of publication and what else needs to be done,” states Margie Livelli. She is adamant. “Tim’s story deserves to be heard. It is not that the parents should not listen to the doctors, but rather to give their children a chance to show what they can and can’t do with lots of intervention. Look at Tim…..first they said I should abort; then they said he would not make it; then they said he was going to make it, so be prepared to place him in a home of some kind. What a waste of a wonderful young man’s mind if I had listened to them. In fact, people never look at me as Margie anymore, I’m always just ‘Tim’s Mom’”, she says half-jokingly.
When asked what he would like to see in regards to his book, the answer is both simple and reflective for the would-be author with a warrior’s heart. “For parents to speak up for their kids,” Tim insists. “I hope that people will learn to fight for their special needs children like my Mom fought for me. If I did not go through the struggles and difficulties in my first five years as well as until now, I would not be the person I am today.”
For further information, details, or to donate, please visit www.gofundme.com/f/warrior-heart.