Last July, when Gina Giaffoglione accepted an invitation from one of her outpatient physical therapists at Immanuel Medical Center to share her story with some Alegent Health
marketing folks, the thought never crossed Gina’s mind that the interview would lead to air time in a national
Three months later, a day doesn’t go by when Gina doesn’t hear from somebody who’s seen her in the commercial.
“People have been telling me, ‘Hey, I saw you on TV last night’ and my Facebook wall has just blown up,” she said. “It’s been crazy.”
Gina has been taking part in physical therapy on a regular basis at Immanuel Medical Center in Omaha since being
critically injured in an automobile accident in March 2008. The injury left the Glenwood native and Wayne State College (Neb.) student with
paralysis in the lower half of her body.
Since the accident, Gina has served as an inspiration to other people by moving on with her life and confronting her physical challenges head on. From the seat of her wheelchair, Gina’s resumed teaching tumbling to children at her gymnasium in Wayne. She’s on course to earn her bachelor’s degree from Wayne State next spring.
Before being selected for the Alegent television spot, Gina went through a preliminary interview with the Alegent marketing team. That process began with an in-home video shoot last July.
“I was expecting like seven or eight people. There must have been 20 people in the house,” Gina recalled. “They just picked up our couch and took it out the front door. They took the recliner and put it out on the porch. I just thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is crazy.’”
Gina thought the in-home interview would be the end of her involvement with the project.
She was wrong.
“At that point, they had limited it down to seven people. They told me they’d let me know if my story stood out among the seven people and I would move on to the next step, which was the TV commercial,” she said. “I was really freaking out, but I thought this isn’t going to get any bigger. I didn’t hear from them for awhile, but then they called me and told me my story had been chosen with the other two. I wasn’t expecting that at all.”
In addition to Gina, a cardiovascular patient and cancer survivor were also selected to have their stories featured in the TV spots.
When it came time for Gina’s commercial to actually be made, a full-blown production crew from Los Angeles descended upon Gina’s tumbling gym in Wayne. The shoot was an all-day ordeal.
“It was insane. There were so many people here,” Gina said. “The people from the coffee shop next door were staring in and trying to figure what was going on. It was the invasion of people with cameras.”
Gina had a hair stylist and make-up crew fussing over her nearly the entire day.
On Sept. 12, Gina was recognized during a kickoff dinner for the commercial, which began airing the following week in communities that have Alegent hospitals and clinics. The commercial actually features a small segment of Gina’s interview, but viewers are encouraged to see her entire story on Alegent’s website.
Gina said she feels a little uncomfortable with the notoriety and attention she’s received over the commercial, but said she’s hopeful that her story and the others that are featured will help people who experience medical hardships and life-threatening injuries.
“We hope that it helps people who are in one of our positions. We hope it shows that you can still do things and get to be more comfortable in your situation,” Gina said. “I’m glad people are actually going in and watching it online. People are commenting, saying things like ‘your story has helped.’ I’m glad it’s having that kind of impact.”