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PTSD Book Earns Young Cliffside Park Authors Praise From Obama, Christie

Elizabeth Sagi, Angela Kohout and Madeline Murillo with a signed letter from President Barack Obama. Photo Credit: Facebook
Madeline Murillo, Angela Kohout and Elizabeth Sagi filmed for the TV show "Classroom Close Up." Photo Credit: Facebook
Elizabeth Sagi holds up a signed letter from Chris Christie. Photo Credit: Facebook

CLIFFSIDE PARK, N.J. — When Cliffside Park School No. 3 students Madeline Murillo, Angela Kohout and Elizabeth Sagi first joined together to write a picture book on PTSD last May, their goal was to get an "A" on their class project.

Eight months later, " Daddy's Heart, My Heart, The Purple Heart " has sold more than 800 copies and earned the authors praise from the likes of Gov. Christie and President Obama.

"I don’t think they truly understand what they accomplished," said Michael Ryan, the girls' former sixth-grade teacher, who helped them self-publish their story about a fictional family dealing with PTSD.

"Several years from now they will be amazed at what they did," he said.

The past few months have been a whirlwind of accolades for 12-year-olds Murillo and Kohout, and 10-year-old Sagi.

In November, the students were invited to present "Daddy's Heart" at the Bergen County American Legion monthly meeting.

The Legion ended up purchasing copies of the book to donate to every post and every Bergen County Cooperative Library System library, Ryan said.

Last week, the National American Legion also posted an article about Daddy's Heart on their website.

"The American Legion has been so supportive," Ryan said.

Along with the commendations from Obama & Christie, Ryan said the students have received citations from all Bergen County Freeholders, County Executive James Tedesco, Sen. Paul Sarlo, Reps. Gary Schaer and Marlene Caride, and US Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald.

Last week, the girls were interviewed by NJTV program "Classroom Close Up," and are also receiving a write up in the New Jersey Education Association Review Magazine.

They authors donated the first royalty check of $1,100 from the sale of their book to School No. 3, which will use the money to send care packages to soldiers serving overseas.

Ryan said there is still one thing the girls want to accomplish.

"Their dream is to be invited to dinner at the White House," he said.

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