Monday, December 17, 2012

Mourning the precious lives lost in the Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy

An essay by Joanie Cox-Henry

"The good guys are coming...Show me your smile."  These were the powerful and heroic words of first-grade teacher Kaitlin Roig. 

On Dec. 14, Adam Lanza gathered up his mother's guns, brutally murdered her and then proceeded to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. He was once a student there. He shot and killed 20 children and six adult staff members before taking his own life. The stories that are emerging about the selflessness and bravery of how the teachers inside the building acted are miraculous. I have never heard anything more tragic and detestable than what Lanza did to his victims.

The natural reaction is to scream out: How could this happen? And more importantly, why did this happen? Lanza was clearly disturbed. There are now reports surfacing from people who knew him claiming he didn't feel pain. Reports from the paint Lanza as "extremely bright but socially awkward and — until Friday — was not known as someone who was potentially violent."

Other reports have emerged stating Lanza and his mother Nancy would hit the gun range together. When you see something like the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre happen, it really does feel like the Mayans are right and the world is ending Dec. 21. For so many families, the world did end that day. 

As I look at the faces of the victims, my heart aches. Such innocent lives ended for absolutely no reason. It brings about feelings of anger and despair for everyone involved. Perhaps Lanza told his mother what he planned to do at the school that day and when she tried to stop him, he shot her in the head. We will likely never know the true reason of why the gunman did this or what was really going through his head in his final moments. But this nightmare has happened and now we are left to pick up the pieces. I encourage you to find hope in the stories of how people came together inside the school that day. Think about the miracle of 27-year-old teacher Victoria Soto, who reacted to Lanza by locking her children in a closet and telling him they were  on the other side of the school. Her body was found near the children she saved according to a report on

While it's hard to fathom, this horrific tragedy could've been even worse if not for the brave souls who sacrificed themselves to protect their students. Teacher aids Rachel D'Avino and Anne Marie Murphy also lost their lives that day shielding their students from the gunfire with their own bodies. Further reports are now emerging on the internet that  D'Avino's boyfriend planned to propose to her on Christmas Eve.

When you look at the 20 faces of those beautiful first graders who lost their lives, I see 20 angels who were instantly drawn into God's loving arms. They are all in a better place where death and violence do not exist. The only way to fight this tragedy is with prayer. Pray hard for families to fill their children with love instead of bringing an already troubled person to a gun range. Pray for God to come back into homes and hearts where he once dwelled. Pray for mercy. Pray for peace. Pray for stability. Pray for every loved one in each victim's life. Pray for families to stand by each other and be there for each other when times are tough. Pray for people to pick up a phone when they're thinking about picking up a gun and ending it all. And instead of idolizing fictional TV characters or movie stars and looking to Batman to save you, remember all the heroes inside Sandy Hook Elementary that day who have left behind a legacy of kindness and sacrifice we can all respect and learn from. 

Do not lose faith when something so tragic happens. Instead, use it to fuel hope and salvation in those of us left behind. And just as that courageous teacher told her students inside the school that day, find comfort in knowing the good guys are coming. 

Contact Joanie Cox at

Monday, July 30, 2012

Lessons from my grandfather: A poem of remembrance

Life is short, love long.
When you think you're always right, you're already wrong.
When the going gets tough, get tougher.
When the sailing is smooth, don't forget when it was rougher.
When you think no one is listening, don't be afraid to be loud.
Always be yourself; don't follow the crowd.
If you feel like giving up, don't give in to your fear.
When you think you've had enough, always persevere.
If you never take a chance, you'll never be able to grow.
And when you lose someone you love, never let them go.

By Joanie Cox ©; July 30, 2012.

Leonardo Magazzolo In Memoriam...A life well lived is a life well loved

In Loving Memory of Leonardo Magazzolo September 1, 1933-July 30, 2011. It's been a year since you went home to God. Not a day goes by that we don't all think of you. We can still hear your beautiful voice and see your smiling face. Our hearts are broken without you here, but the love you gave us is always near. We pray for the day we will see you again and we'll never stop thinking of you until then.
Published in Sun-Sentinel on July 28, 2012

Here is a video of my grandpa singing:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Where have I been lol?

Life has been super hectic for me lately but all in a good way:) Here is a filmstrip of my life the past year. I'm getting married to the wonderful man pictured (above). I became an aunt to this gorgeous little lady, Audriana. Not a day goes by that I don't think of my loving grandpa, Leonardo Magazzolo, who past away in July 2011. I'm still walking on red carpets and chasing my dreams. In between all the crazy moments, life is somehow happening to me. Every day is truly a miracle. Jesus is my everything and I also started a company with my aunt, JD Danner. It's called Bible Belt Outfitters and it's a line of Christian T-shirts and baby clothes. I'm still writing for and I also recently started a new purse blog! Check it out at Oh, and this year...I finally met Joan Jett! Life is good, God is great, family is everything and all that matters in life is waking up each day and taking a moment to be thankful for all the blessings and the chaos in between. Love the life you're living right at this moment. There are lessons in every moment, around every corner. Be kind to others. It will all come back to you...eventually.

Thanks for keeping up with me,

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

2011 has been a year of appreciating family and tradition for me. I'm in my living room watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as I do every year, sipping my Starbucks Thanksgiving Blend coffee and being thankful for this big, beautiful life God has given me. This year, I am thankful to have my health restored, a loving boyfriend, the most incredible family, fantastic friends, fabulous co-workers, another year with my wonderful Shar Pei Miss Rose, all the brave men and women who fought for our freedom and getting up each day to go to work and do something I love. I wish you all the healthiest, happiest Thanksgiving and remind everyone to be thankful for all you have because I guarantee you there's someone out there doing without it today. Live, give & love xoxoxoxo Joanie Cox

Monday, October 10, 2011

Il Volo sparks memories of my Sicilian grandfather

Il Volo has to come to Boca Raton or Hard Rock Live to do a show in the new year. The Italian trio of teen tenors performed at The Fillmore in Miami Beach Oct. 6. and tears flooded down my face as the group sang their first notes. The last time I heard many of their classic Italian love songs such as “‘O Sole Mio” and “Granada,” my late grandfather Leonardo Magazzolo was singing these songs to me. But getting to see Piero Barone, 17, Ignazio Boschetto, 17, and Gianluca Ginoble, 16, sing flawless renditions of these songs brought me a sense of peace and hope. Barone happens to come from the same town in Sicily as my grandpa--Agrigento.
The Fillmore was was filled with the vivacious spirit and sound of Italy and I no longer weep for the future of music--not after hearing Il Volo live. Their crescendoing harmonies and impressive, sinewy tones go right through your cells and hit you at the very core of your being. Il Volo has a Christmas album coming out at the end of November and I was thrilled to speak with Boschetto a couple days before his South Florida show.

As you tour across America, what has been the reaction from fans?
“We thought our album was for [people] over 30, but when we started to sing on American Idol and Jay Leno and in concerts, all the teenagers liked this kind of music. It’s incredible. We are so happy that we are doing our goal of bringing this kind of music to the young generation.”
Did you grow up listening to Luciano Pavarotti?
“Piero always listened to Pavarotti and Elvis Presley. I really love rock music. I love AC/DC and Aerosmith. We really listen to every kind of music. I love Lady Gaga.”
What’s your favorite song to perform live?
“For me, it was a challenge to sing "Hasta el Final." It’s a really beautiful but difficult song. You have to take a big breath. It was a challenge, but it’s gonna be great. We love each song.”
How did IlVolo come together?
“We met on an Italian TV show. We didn’t know each other before. We met there, and the producer of this program decided to put our voices together. And from that, Il Volo was born. After this program, we shot a concert with Universal, and after, we did American Idol and released our album. Now, we hope to go around the world.”
As far as traditional Italian music goes, do you have a favorite song?
“Since we are Italian, we have to bring our old Italian traditional songs. But we sing live in Italian, Spanish and English, and I think traditional Italian songs are for having fun. It’s an important part of our concert.”
What’s your favorite Italian food?
“My mother worked for many years in a pizzeria. I was born in Bologna. But when we moved in Sicily, my mother opened a pizzeria, and now, the owner is my sister. So when I am at home, I always eat pizza.”

For more on Il Volo, check out

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Life is meant to be lived, celebrated and never taken for granted

By Joanie Cox

Celebrating my 31st birthday on August 14 was bittersweet for me this year. Since my grandpa Leonardo Magazzolo passed away on July 30, I’ve been crying my eyes out at least once a day and I continually find myself praying for the grace and strength to get through losing the man I adored so fervently all my life.
August is birthday month in my family and the only month of the year besides December where my grandparents would go broke giving us all gifts. My cousin Alex was born Aug. 13, I’m Aug. 14, mother’s birthday is Aug. 15 and my cousin Lenny’s is Aug. 18. Over the years, we have had some pretty amazing birthdays spent in Disney World, New York and Las Vegas. But as I’ve gotten older, I started to care less about the location and more about who was attending it. Suddenly, the words in the card became more valuable to me than the gift that was in it.
Several loyal readers of my Life In The Fab Lane column in the Boca Raton community have told me their favorite columns are the ones where I pour my heart out. So here it is. I want to share with you the 18 most important lessons I’ve learned so far.

My grandfather Leonardo Magazzolo:
“The key to success is perseverance. Don’t pay attention to what everyone else is doing. If you rest, you rust.”

My grandma Joan Magazzolo:
“Love is forever and never stop telling the people you love that you love them.”

My aunt JD Danner:
“Never lose hope. You’ve got to have faith.”

My aunt Maryann Gonzalez:
“Pick and choose your battles. Wasting time on insignificant things takes away the energy you’ll need to cope with the big stuff.”

My friend Michelle Averkiou:
“When you smile, you not only bring joy to yourself but to others.”

My friend and former pediatrician Dr. Jerry Wexler:
“Nothing is impossible if you stay focused and try your best.”

My uncle Raul:
“The road least traveled usually has the best views.”

My uncle Thad:
“Don’t keep reliving the past. Today is a new day.”

My priest Father Michael Kane:
“Have patience.”

My editor Jake Cline:
“Don’t waste time worrying. Focus on what you can do.”

My cousin Dominic Giambalvo:
“Love isn’t supposed to hurt.”

My friend Harvey Hurvitz:
“People don’t change. If a guy is doing something to hurt you now, it’s only going to get worse.”

My cousin Roy Giambalvo:
“Thank God for every day you wake up.”

My cousin Angelo Ruisi:
“Respect goes a long way.”

My cousin Michael Giambalvo:
“The most difficult part of life is losing the ones we love. Nobody can avoid this or run from it but find comfort in knowing the spirit and legacy lives on in you.”

My mother Nancy Cox:
“Never walk out of the house with a candle burning or the coffeepot or curling iron on.”

My aunt Karen Cox-Reiter:
“Losing someone never gets easier, it just changes.”

Joanie Cox:
“Grudges are too heavy to carry, so don’t walk through life with them. It takes less energy to smile than to frown. And while having amazing ‘stuff’ is wonderful, you can’t take any of it with you when you’re gone. Family is all that matters. Leave behind a legacy of love.”