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Wheelchair User Finds New Hope After Encounter With Pope Francis

NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) -- The papal visit brought many memorable moments to New York, one that many will never forget happened as the pope arrived at Kennedy Airport on Thursday. He blessed a 12-year-old girl in a wheelchair.

"I came here because I wanted to meet the pope, because I believe in a miracle," Julie Bruzzese said.

Bruzzese, of Bensonhurst, spoke to CBS2's Dick Brennan right after the emotional encounter.

At St. Bernadette's in Dyker Heights, the 7th grader has lost the use of her legs, but hasn't lost her faith.

"I thank God for family and my help, and I ask God every day to get closer and closer to a good recovery," she said.

We first met Julia on Thursday when she was blessed by Pope Francis after he saw her on the tarmac at Kennedy Airport and came over.

Her paralysis had baffled doctors. Symptoms only pointed to Lyme disease, but did not confirm it.

Now, five-days-later, Julia has new reason to hope.

"The miracle has begun. Yesterday, I went to the doctor and for the first time they saw Lyme disease activity in my blood and that just shows a miracle can happen if you believe, just like I did. If you believe and pray everything can happen," she said.

So much has been happening. Julia's father said the response to CBS2's interview was overwhelming.

One doctor said she would treat her for free.

"Since the pope we don't feel alone anymore," Enrico Bruzzese said.

Julia's mom had called out to the pope to come over to them on Thursday, and when he turned she knew something special was happening.

"He looked me right in the eyes, kissed his hand and thanked him, and I walked away she's gonna be okay," Josephine Bruzzese said.

Julia's teachers, students, and siblings have been so supportive, they've even developed a wrist hashtag.

It says "pray for Julia."

Julia wants to get back to playing softball and soccer, singing in the choir, and performing her duties as an altar server.

"It's unfortunate that this has happened. This experience has made me wiser, made me look at life in a different perspective. Life is precious," she said.

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