Pizzeria gives out food to raise money for nursing school graduate who needs surgery

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — A nursing school graduate is in the biggest fight of her life.

Danielle Kelly needs brain surgery, but her parents have already spent their life's savings to pay off the mounting medical bills.

Legion Pizzeria in Kennesaw is helping in a big way.

The restaurant's official grand opening isn't until Monday, but employees have given away free food for the last week. They're only asking that customers consider donating money to help pay for Kelly's brain surgery.

"I always say, ‘Everyone's normal day migraine is my everyday headache,'" said Kelly.

The 22-year-old considers herself a fighter. She's determined to help people.

"I've wanted to be a nurse my entire life," said Kelly.

The Kennesaw resident graduated from Shorter University this year. She's eager to start her career, but it's on hold for now.

Kelly has a rare medical condition called pseudotumor cerebri. Kelly told Channel 2's Chris Jose, it means her head has too much spinal fluid.

"You have spinal fluid in your head. Like a water balloon, if you fill it up with too much water, eventually it will burst," said Kelly. "The pressure just keeps going up. The more pressure in your skull, it affects your optic nerves. It affects the arteries in your brain. It would lead to an aneurysm. It could lead to a lot of things if gone untreated."


Kelly has had brain surgery before to relieve the pressure. She needs a second operation.

"Worst-case scenario, if you don't have this brain surgery, it can kill you?" asked Jose.

"Yeah. My brain could bleed. I could go blind," said Kelly.

Kelly's family lives paycheck to paycheck. She sold t-shirts to help pay the bills.

"I'm almost embarrassed to say this, I didn't have the money to buy a shirt. I didn't have 25 extra dollars," said Dave DeSantis, a close family friend.

He's also the co-owner of Legion Pizzeria.

DeSantis told Jose he only had $13 in his bank account three months ago. All his money had gone toward opening up his new restaurant on Chastain Road.

"It has bothered me since I saw it and I couldn't help," said DeSantis.

DeSantis responded in a big way when he opened Legion Pizzeria a week early to serve up free pizzas. He's only asking customers to donate money to pay for Kelly's surgery.

"You asked me why? It's the right thing to do. You asked me why? People should love each other," said DeSantis.

One hundred percent of the donations collected through the holiday weekend will go directly to Kelly.

Legion Pizzeria is closed on Thanksgiving. It will reopen for lunch on Black Friday. Kelly also set up a GoFundMe page.