One Tough Cookie—and Generous Donor, Too

In October 2013, as 5th grader Isabella Sementilli went to sit down, a classmate pulled out the chair from under her. In that moment, her life was changed forever. Isabella sustained a brain injury, a fractured tailbone, and back and neck injuries. She lives with the effects of her brain injury to this day.

Isabella can longer do the things she once loved, like tap dance or play tennis. But in overcoming her obstacles, Isabella has found new passions—baking and fighting for anti-bullying and brain injury awareness. The cookies she bakes, which she has named Iznettes, are sold at her dad’s restaurant, and she donates the proceeds to support causes she cares about, including Kessler Foundation. Isabella also wrote, illustrated, and self-published a picture book, The Short Story of One Tough Cookie: A True Story. She hopes her book teaches others that “… we all can be strong—be that tough cookie—and never crumble, no matter the obstacle.”

Isabella Sementilli signing books

A change-maker and champion, Isabella has been recognized with many awards. She was Youth Honoree for March on for Brain Injury, received the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Agent of Change Award from New York State Minorities in Criminal justice for promoting peace and non-violence, and the Neil & Jane Golub Making A Difference Award from the Anti-Defamation League of NY/NJ, among others. She is proud of every award she has received, seeing them as validation of her efforts. Isabella, now 17, vows to spread her message of compassion, understanding, and kindness. 

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