Greater Long Island wins Silver Telly for video work on Dunia Sibomana

Telly Awards Greater Long Island

It was an inspiring, even unbelievable tale that touched hearts around the globe.

Survivor: The definite story of Dunia Sibomana was released by Greater Long Island in March of 2022.

The mini documentary traced Dunia’s journey from Africa after he narrowly survived a chimpanzee attack that claimed the lives of two other children, to the United States. Settling in Long Beach as a child, he underwent multiple surgeries and was later adopted.

Dunia ultimately won a New York State wresting title last year in the eighth grade — with his newly adoptive father as his wrestling coach.

Greater Long Island’s work telling Dunia’s story was enough to impress the judges at the 44th Annual Telly Awards, which this week recognized the growing media company with a Silver Telly in the General Online division for motivational video.

[The Golden Telly went to the Olympic Channel, a property of the International Olympic Committee for its story of Molly Carlson, a high diver from Canada.]

“Dunia’s story comes once in a lifetime,” said Jamie Stuart, a GLI sports contributor who co-reported and narrated the video. “Overcoming a near-death experience to enjoy a great life on Long Island is amazing. But becoming a state champion is the stuff movies are made from.”

Stuart, a former News 12 anchor, said he felt a great sense of responsibility going into the months-long project, which took the film team from Long Beach, to Stony Brook, to Albany.

“We had to do his story justice, and make the audience realize how special Dunia really is,” he said.

The team included co-reporter and producer Nicholas Esposito, videographer and editor Andrew Theodorakis (who first learned of Dunia’s story), and executive producer Michael White.

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of the project for everyone involved, was having the opportunity to get to know the young man that is Dunia Sibomana.

“He is tenacious on the mat,” Theodorakis said. “But what I found most remarkable is how sweet and funny Dunia is, and so well-liked among his teenage peers.”

“Dunia not only has an incredible story. He’s an even better person,” Esposito said. “Through all the shares and comments, it was obvious he has inspired so many. He’s also been an inspiration to us.

“We are honored that he allowed us to share his story with the world.”

Click here to learn more about the Telly Awards. Tap the thumbnail below to watch. Dunia’s story later caught the attention of ESPN, which aired its own feature on the Long Beach teenager earlier this winter.