Marina Lombardi and teammates help raise funds for young lady with rare disease

Livingston came together to help a young lady battling a rare disease.

Sara Gebert is a 19-year-old girl from Pittstown, New Jersey. Over the past two years, the competitive softball pitcher had shed 30 pounds, and was forced to drop out of Fairleigh Dickinson University because she was often too sick to get out of bed.

967Sara and Marina share an embrace after Sara threw out the first pitch on May 1. (Photos courtesy of Elena Lombardi)

Sara was diagnosed with Chronic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction (CIPO) and Gastroparesis. These conditions are so severe that she is considered to be in intestinal failure. She is fed overnight straight into her heart with Total Parenteral Nutrition (IV nutrition). She has to drain her stomach 24/7 because her body is unable to contain its own digestive contents.

970A special day at Livingston’s softball field. (AKA ShangriLa)

On May 1, the Livingston High softball team, led by senior catcher Marina Lombardi, welcomed Sara to the team’s game against Montclair. Marina gave a stirring speech to the crowd, and then Sara threw out the first pitch. The event was also a fundraiser, where baked goods and bracelets were sold.

976Marina (left) and Sara had a good day on the field.

“The generosity from people at the game was incredible,” said Elena Lombardi, Marina’s mom. “We raised $614.00, which is a pretty good amount for people who attended a softball game. So many people reached out. I’d like to thank (Mount St. Dominic softball coach) Rob Stern, who made a very generous donation. It meant a great deal.”

979Sara (back row, center) joins the Big Green Machine for a photo prior to the team’s game.

There are only about 150 cases of CIPO diagnosed a year worldwide,  and there is no cure. Symptoms can be managed, but this usually requires very invasive surgeries and expensive medications that often are not covered by insurance. Sara lives every day with severe pain and constant nausea. She has good days and bad days.

Sara has set out to form ‘Sara’s Army’, a nonprofit organization created to raise awareness and funding for her own medical treatments as well as research towards a cure for this disease.

Marina subsequently befriended Sara through her website and talked about softball, and how the Lancers would like to build awareness on CIPO and support Sara’s Army.

If you’re interested in learning more about Sara’s Army, or possibly making a donation, check out the website at

By mike051893

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