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Occupation: I’m a physical therapist. I opened fisio Physical Therapy & Wellness in July 2011 in Danbury. “Fisio” is the Brazilian slang word for physical therapy. I was a Rotary Club exchange student to São Paulo, Brazil, when I was 18 years old. I lived with three families and learned Portuguese and the Brazilian culture. I loved it. The aunt from my first host family is a physical therapist, so I would work in her clinic. I came back, and I went to college for physical therapy. When I was opening a clinic, even though I live in Sandy Hook, I wanted it to be in Danbury to be able to initially connect with the Brazilian/Portuguese population, as there are 30,000 Brazilians that live in Danbury. That was really great being there and being able to speak Portuguese everyday. For me, it is wonderful to blend those two things: the passion that I have for Brazil and my friends there and the passion that I have for physical therapy. Last year, fisio relocated to 141 Mt Pleasant Road in Newtown.
Family: My husband Frank LaBanca is a middle school principal in Danbury at Westside Middle School Academy. My daughter Anna is a ninth grader at Newtown High School and has just started doing the REACH program at school. My daughter Maggie is a seventh grader at Newtown Middle School and plays travel soccer. My daughters are also very active in the Newtown color guard and marching band.
Pets: We just got three new chickens. I grew up on a dairy farm with 300 acres and a ton of animals, but in suburban Connecticut we haven’t fared so well.
How long have you lived in Newtown? We moved to Newtown in February 2003. Before, we had lived in Black Rock and moved to be closer to my in-laws who would drive from New Fairfield to babysit. The other important reason for us to move to Newtown was the schools. My husband started teaching biology at Newtown High School in September 2003 for four years, and it was nice teaching and being part of the community.
What do you like to do in your free time? I love to garden, and I also love to travel.
Do you have a favorite author? I love Paulo Coelho. He wrote The Alchemist.
What is your favorite travel destination? We went to London a year ago. That was my favorite. We went to Kensington Gardens, Buckingham Palace, and rode on the London Eye. We even made up our own Harry Potter tour of film locations around London. It was great. I loved it.
What is the best part about Newtown? The community. I just drove the van recently for Ian Hockley’s Men’s Ultra team in the Reebok Ragnar Relay. It was great to see 25 teams in Cape Cod of Newtowners from the Avielle Foundation, Dylan’s Wings of Change, Ben’s Lighthouse, and the REACH program. Dylan’s Wings of Change raised over $110,000 in a weekend with 115 people running for the group. That’s a lot of people and they were pretty much all Newtowners. Prior to 12/14, having not been from Connecticut, I didn’t know if I would always live here, but after 12/14 I’m struck with the friendships here and the people.
Who and what have been the greatest influences in your life? My mentor Sandy MacKinnon who introduced me to physical therapy at 16 years old; my exchange year in Brazil; and my family — my husband and my daughters.
If you could spend the day with one person, who would you choose and why? My mother, Betty Jo, who passed away in 1998. I’d love for us to get to roam around Greenwich Village, go to a jazz concert, and people watch.
Who are your favorite musical artists? The Dave Matthew Band and Tim Reynolds. My local favorite artist is Mark Barden and Alternate Universe. He has an awesome band.
What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever been given? Keep at it. My mentor, Sandy, who owned her own physical therapy practice for years, would tell me that. Also, that it’s a marathon not a sprint, especially when owning your own business.