Former Great Valley remembered as inspiration to family and friends – Daily Local

Neil Geoghegan
@NeilMGeoghegan on Twitter
EAST BRANDYWINE >> It’s been more than three years, but even after her death, Olivia “Liv” Juliana is making a difference.
This is what Liv has strived for throughout her total 19 years of life. And what’s happening now is clear evidence that the Malvern native and Great Valley High School graduate was not only successful, but an inspiration to just about everyone she came in contact with.
“Liv made a difference every day,” said her mom, Marie Juliana. “She really is.”
She has created such a powerful legacy that Applecross Country Club will host a charity golf event in her honor on Monday: the third annual Liv2BeKind Memorial Golf Marathon. It’s a dawn-to-dusk endurance challenge to raise funds to support the physical and mental health and wellbeing of local youth.
“She was worried about everyone,” Marie added. “She was always thinking of others. That was her mission in life.”
In an earlier version of the golf marathon seven years ago, Liv played more than 15 hours in one day. That alone is legendary, but she did it despite having severe migraine headaches after a series of concussions.
Her story is also legendary. In just four years, she went from true beginner golfer to Pioneer Athletic Conference girls individual champion. But during this journey, Liv’s health began to steadily decline after being diagnosed with AMPS (amplified musculoskeletal syndrome).

Born in Phoenixville in 2000, Liv was the youngest of three parents, Ralph and Marie. Growing up in Malvern with her sister Devon and brother Angelo, Liv always had an interest in athletics – the rougher and thrashing the better. But it had its price.
“She’s had multiple concussions,” Marie said. “She played soccer and basketball, but had to stop contact sports because of a concussion.”
In the spring of 2014, around the time she was graduating high school, Liv was introduced to golf for the first time, which is the most non-contact sport imaginable. At first it took some persuasion to convince her to give it a try.
“She was very athletic, so we were just looking for a non-contact sport for her,” Marie said.
Applecross Golf Academy Director of Instruction Eric McCluhan was organizing a free clinic and Marie signed Liv up.
“She added a little note about Liv’s (health) problem, so I called Marie and said maybe she should take her out separately because she might get lost in the big group we were doing,” McCluan recalls.
“(Liv) showed up in a miserable state because she really wanted to play basketball. She didn’t want to play golf, but her mom signed her up in the hope that she would have something to do because she was a competitive kid and a hard worker.”
Apparently, Liv’s first swing at the golf ball was far from picturesque.
“She had the weakest first swing I’ve ever seen in my life,” McCluen said.
“She fought to even be on the program, but in the end she agreed,” Marie added. “Erika took the time to videotape her first swing and it was pathetic. She was so embarrassed.
“But he took her on the course to see some of his students and show her what the swing would look like after a couple of weeks of working with him. Once she saw what she could do, it inspired her. She went back to the gun and hit several buckets of swords. We were there for several hours.”
The clinic held a competition for one newcomer to visit the summer camp for free. Liv submitted a video explaining her desire to learn the game, and as a result of a vote by Girls Golf Revolution Board of Directors Eric McCluhan, she won it.
“From that point on, she was there all summer,” Marie said. “I would drop her off at 7am on the way to work and pick her up at the end of the day. Her goal was to make the varsity golf team (Great Valley).
And a few months later, she did.
“The following August, during testing, she was shooting in the 90s,” McCluen reported. “By the end of that season, she’s shooting in the 80s. She was getting better and better.
“But she was in pain all the time.”

In the summer of 2015, Liv took part in the Applecross Golf Marathon for the first time, which raised funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities. And it would be an understatement to say that she impressed everyone present.
“She was a very determined person and it was for a good cause,” Marie said. “The money raised was used to install putting greens at Ronald McDonald Houses in Philadelphia, Wilmington and New Jersey.”
Always an early riser, Liv’s odyssey began at dawn. Her playing partners went as far as they could but were eliminated after about 100 holes – quite a feat in itself.
“Liv texted me at 4 p.m. and said, ‘I’m going to continue,'” McCluen said.
“She ran out of gas in two carts that day. There was no thought of checking the gas because no one thought anyone would do what she would do.’
Liv continued to pitch as all the other golfers gave it up. The sun was already setting when she played her last hole. And by the time she got to the green, her parents had to park the car so that the headlights would illuminate the road as she put out the fire.
“She finished her 201st hole in the dark,” McCluhan said.
It was such a remarkable feat that later, when McCluhan went to Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia to see the newly installed putting green, he took Liv with him.
“They spent several evenings visiting and working with the children who were staying there and being treated at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia,” Marie said.

Her game steadily improved, and it all culminated during her senior season in 2017. Liew shot an even-par 70 to win the Pioneer Athletic Conference crown by one stroke. She was later named to the Daily Local News’ All-Area first team.
Already diagnosed with AMPS, an already dire health situation, however, was bound to worsen. Liv was one of eight girls golfers to advance from 17 counties, but just one step away from playing for a state title, she had to forgo regionals.
“She had an episode where she had terrible migraine headaches and saw several golf balls,” McCluhan said. “Some of the other players just couldn’t understand what she was dealing with.”
According to Maria, she felt nauseous more and more often.
“We never found out why,” she said. “Liv couldn’t keep food down – not even water.”
In the months that followed, Liv saw several doctors and specialists at the Mayo Clinic. She underwent various tests, but the answers were elusive.
“Doctors could not understand why her stomach practically stopped working,” Marie said.
Unable to maintain hydration and nutrition, Liv began to lose weight. She was put on a tube temporarily, but when her condition worsened, it became permanent. She had a backpack strapped to her body that helped deliver fluids directly to her intestines 24 hours a day. In fact, it kept her alive.
“Just going through a normal day was hard, and she dealt with that every day,” Marie said. “She was in pain all the time. It was difficult to walk for several days.”
She was eventually diagnosed with autoimmune gastrointestinal disease and suffered bouts of depression.

The only solace from the downward spiral seemed to be on the golf course. And for Liv, it was at least a partial escape from all the chronic pain and frustrating uncertainty of her suffering.
“She said that when she hits the golf ball, she gets so excited about it that it doesn’t hurt as much. She found her thing,” McCluhan said.
“She was at her best on the golf course,” Marie agreed. “She loved the game and the openness and being outside was good for her. Being indoors, in closed spaces, seemed to worry her condition.
“Her health problems have clearly worsened. But she had an invisible illness. If you looked at her from the outside, you’d never know she had all these medical things going on.”
Despite all this, Liv continued to play and dream. She wanted to play golf in college and pursue a career helping others. He eventually accepted a golf scholarship to attend NCAA Division I St. Francis (Pa.) University in Loretto.
“It’s been a huge accomplishment,” said McCluan, who has helped about 120 students get college scholarships. “She wanted to play golf in college. But at this point she was carrying a battery that controlled the feeder tube … and she’s trying to play varsity golf.’
With her body breaking down, Liv’s lone season with the Red Flash in 2018-19 was understandably difficult. In addition, she was studying to become either an occupational therapist or a physician’s assistant.
Eventually it all became too much. Endless pain, endless, seemingly endless trials, incalculable physical and emotional toll. Liv passed away on May 15, 2019.
“She had so much to give and her body just couldn’t keep up with everything she wanted to do,” Marie explained.
“It was absolutely brutal,” added McCluen, “and she was just frustrated. I don’t know how she did it, and I don’t want to know. It won’t change anything.”

Liv’s last words were: “Be gentle with yourself. Please help other children with mental illness so no one else has to lose this battle.”
Although she was only at St. Francis for a short period of time, Liv left a mark, as she did at all the other stops along the way. Hundreds of students gathered on campus that fall to honor Liv and two classmates who had died in the previous months.
SFU head women’s golf coach Lisa Warrilow and men’s coach Derek Tyson then got together and organized a golf marathon in her name, with proceeds split equally between St. Francis Active Minds Chapter and the Liv2BeKind Fund. On May 25, 2022, the second annual marathon took place.
“Liv was a very outgoing and charitable person,” said Worrilow, who is no longer the head coach. “She put others before herself and was always working to raise funds and promote the causes that meant so much to her.
“To carry on her legacy, (we) want to follow in her footsteps with a golf marathon to raise awareness of mental health and remove the stigma that Liv fought so bravely against.”
The third annual Liv2BeKind Memorial Golf Marathon at Applecross will kick off at the crack of dawn on Monday with participants hitting glow balls. About 50 to 60 people are expected to play, according to McCluen. First Tee — Delaware is the primary beneficiary, with funds raised going toward children’s programs.
“The kids get sponsors for every hole so they can raise money,” McCluhan said.
“Now all the kids know that Liv once played 201 (holes). And she did it on her own. It was quite typical.’
Juliana’s family is expected to attend, as well as Silvana Gonzalez of Downingtown East. As a junior, she helped the Cougars to the 2021 PIAA Team Championship and, like Liv, is a spinoff of Eric McCluhan’s Girls Golf Revolution program sponsored by First Tee – Delaware
“This program has changed Silvana’s life,” McCluhan said. “Two years ago she was shooting 130 and now she’s around 4.”
According to Leslie McGuigan, business manager for First Tee – Delaware, the marathon hopes to raise $50,000 to continue and expand the Women’s Golf Revolution in Liv’s memory.
And for current and future generations unfamiliar with Liv Juliana’s influence, they just need to head to the driving range at Applecross Country Club. To the side you will see a double fire pit made of stone that surrounds a flower garden in her honor. It was recently erected by McCluen and has signs detailing Liv’s incredible story.
“Liv was a strong person and an inspiration to others,” McGuigan said.

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