Palmetto High School senior Amelia Gallo loves to make people happy. Gallo knows what real sadness is, having had problems with depression that started with the death of a childhood friend.
“When I was 10, my best friend passed away from brain cancer, right after my great uncle passed away from cancer and a choir teacher died from stomach cancer,” she says. “I became depressed because of her death. I had a very rough few years. But there was something that she would say to me. Be faithful, be thankful, and keep smiling. That really helped me.”
Gallo says her family didn’t know how sad she was inside, but there came a time when she realized she was tired of being sad. The turning point for her came when she participated in Relay for Life during her sophomore year.
Now she wants to become a wedding planner after earning a degree in event management or marketing.
“I love parties, I love being with families and I love weddings,” she says. “Weddings are so happy. I want to spend the rest of my life doing something that makes others happy. I’m good at organization and I love planning. Thinking of a job I would be doing the rest of my life, I would be good at being a wedding planner because I’d be making others happy.”
Gallo has had experience with weddings because she comes from a large family and has four older sisters.
Although she felt sad inside, Gallo didn’t let that stop her from participating at school and in church activities. She has earned more than 1,000 hours of community service. She is a Palmetto High cheerleader and is the co-managing editor of the yearbook. She started working with the yearbook staff in her sophomore year when the advisor asked her to join the team as a writer. In her junior year, she was promoted to section editor for events.
“The main job I have is to make sure that we meet our deadlines,” she says. “We have deadlines in our class, but the main ones are from the publisher. I make sure the section editors meet the one for the class. I walk around and help them with whatever they need.”
Gallo sings in church and last year she used her musical talent to participate in Palmetto’s annual spring musical as an ensemble and dance captain, although she is not in drama. Gallo also sings at church on Sunday mornings with the band and is very involved in youth group activities at Old Cutler Presbyterian. She went with the youth group on a mission trip last summer.
“We went the Dominican Republic and stayed for 10 days and we built a house for a pastor,” she says. “We had vacation bible school for the kids in the morning.”
For several years, Gallo was a student leader for a Christian group called WAVE, which stands for Witnessing Audio Visual Expression.
“We take sign language and put it to Christian music so we can reach both hearing and deaf audiences. Our mission is to spread the word of God,” she says.
The summer between her freshman and sophomore year she went on a mission with the sign language group.
“We went to Honduras for four days and El Salvador for 10 days. In Honduras we went to an orphanage and helped out with another ministry called Heart to Heart Ministry,” she says. “We visited the orphanage to spend time with the kid. We helped launch a skateboarding ministry called Elevate.”
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld