SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - A community advocate in the city of Springfield is on a long road to recovery after suffering from a ruptured brain aneurysm in the Fall.
Months later, and Julia Ortiz is still in a Worcester Hospital and now her family is coming forward to share what lies ahead.
In October, Julia Ortiz was home alone when suddenly a voice of activism for Springfield was silenced.
"She lost breath and half an hour later, my cousin came home and found her on the floor unresponsive. My mother had one grasp of air and a tear came down like, 'Yes, somebody found me'," Paris Ortiz, Julia's daughter, tells us.
After rushing Julia to Baystate, her daughter, Paris, learned what happened.
"A brain aneurysm," explained Paris.
The woman who has spent years fighting for Springfield was immediately flown to Worcester.
There. she's been fighting for her own life ever since.
"She was on life support for about a month. [What was that like for you thinking that she might not recover?] We were living the worst. To me, she’s my mom, but to this community, she’s a hero," stated Paris.
Julia Ortiz’s family says she has worked with low income families for years, securing housing, helping people find jobs, and promoting financial literacy.
"She knows the history of Springfield in such an amazing way and I mean, even the history of buildings," local activist Yolanda Cancel said.
Other local activists have watched Julia organize historically black college and university visits for the city's high schoolers.
"She has such a genuineness with the children that were going on the tour," local activist Kelly Laroe says.
Julia hasn't been home to the city and family she loves in months, but the bills and mortgage haven't stopped, which is why the family has set up a GoFundMe.
"I unfortunately have epilepsy, so I don’t drive, so a lot of times when I am going to see my mom, I’m seeking people to bring me. There is literally no income coming into the household," continued Paris.
While she has a long road ahead, Julia's family says she's recently made progress in one area where doctors weren't confident: recovering her voice.
"I told her I love her and she said, 'I love you too', and I think I almost had a heart attack," added Julia.
If you'd like to donate to Julia's rehabilitation efforts, you can click or tap here for more information.
Julia's daughter says she hopes her mother's story will encourage anyone with family history of brain aneurysms to get checked regularly by a doctor.