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Team Giovanni

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2,500.00
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On the Night You Were Born
By Nancy Tillman

On the night you were born,
The moon smiled with such wonder
that the stars peeked in to see you
And the night wind whispered,
“Life will never be the same.”
Because there had never been anyone like you…ever in the world.
So enchanted with you were the wind and the rain
That they whispered the sound of your wonderful name.
It sailed through the farmland
High on the breeze…
Over the ocean…
And through the trees…
Until everyone heard it
And everyone knew
Of the one and only ever you.
Not once had there been such eyes,
Such a nose,
Such silly, wiggly, wonderful toes.
When the polar bears heard,
They danced until dawn.
From faraway places,
The geese flew home.
The moon stayed up until
Morning next day.
And none of the ladybugs flew away.

So whenever you doubt just how special you are
And you wonder who loves you, how much and how far,
Listen for geese honking high in the sky.
(They’re singing a song to remember you by.)
Or notice the bears asleep at the zoo.
(It’s because they’ve been dancing all night for you!)
Or drift off to sleep to the sound of the wind.
(Listen closely…it’s whispering your name again!)
If the moon stays up until morning one day,
Or a ladybug lands and decides to stay,
Or a little bird sits at your window awhile,
It’s because they’re all hoping to see you smile…
For never before in story or rhyme
(not even once upon a time)
Has the world ever known a you, my friend,
And it never will, not ever again…
Heaven blew every trumpet
And played every horn
On the wonderful, marvelous
Night you were born.

Before Giovanni was born, it was made clear to us that he would be born with a Congenital Heart Defect and a very serious one at that. From his first moments he would be in for a fight. Knowing this we decided to find out if the baby was to be a boy or a girl, and a boy he was. Having decided on a girl’s name, we looked up “grace” as the definition for a boy’s name and there it was first on the list Giovanni - “In God’s Grace.” The name fit perfectly!

The wind and the rain didn’t really whisper his name on the night he was born they shouted it. There was a terrible storm on the night Gio was born. He came in with a fury to a standing room only crowd and was quickly taken away to children’s hospital to await his first surgery.

Gio started fighting from day one. In room 12 at Children’s Cardiac ICU we would sing Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” telling Gio not to worry about a thing. The sun would shine through his window and believe it or not, three little birds would come every day and sit on his window sill. Melody pure and true; we should try to live like Gio; pure and true.

Gio’s first year brought two open heart surgeries and a LADDs surgery, to say he was challenged would be an understatement. In honor of his 1st birthday and to celebrate the holidays he missed in his first year, a big party was held for him at Montvale Plaza. All of his extended family and friends got to meet him for the first time that day and Gio’s love for the holidays grew from that day on.

Christmas was Gio’s favorite holiday. He loved the Polar Express, so we went every year. Everytime 12 days of Christmas played there was Giovanni shouting out “5 GOLDEN RINGS!” He also loved Halloween. He was a giraffe for his first Halloween, but after that he was a super hero almost every year, in addition to whatever his imagination wanted to bring to life like Special Agent Oso and Ratatouille. He always wore his red cape though, because he knew above all else he was a super hero or a “hospital super hero” as he called it.

Gio always found joy in simple pleasures, like watermelon, swimming, bubbles, cooking, family dinners, and looking at drinks in Market Basket. His family would come over by invitation to one of Gio’s Fancy dinners. He always loved being with family. He loved Uncle Tom’s Shoe Garage in New Hampshire and the Beach house in Falmouth. He loves his special songs like J-I-N-G-L-E toast because he loves his cream cheese and jelly sandwiches and BINGO because that’s his song, he would yell (G-O –that’s me). Gio just had this goofy personality, so often taking songs and twisting them to make them his own. When he started to sing and dance it was a sight to behold, laughter was always quick to follow and you never knew exactly where it was going to go, or even who he might be poking fun at. No matter what or who, it was going to be funny and most times he walked away proud as a peacock knowing he had made others smile and would usually not provide an encore performance, he would just leave you wondering what was next.

He loved nothing more than being able to spend time with his family and especially his cousins. He had more cousins than any of us even know of, everyone he met and bonded with became his cousin, and he welcomed everyone into his family.

Gio had the most infectious smile; he could win over the heart of almost anyone with just one glance. He would muster the sweetest words even if they didn’t always come out exactly right; the sentiment behind what he was saying was always there. His half a heart had more love in it than most could fathom.

When he found out he was going to be a big brother he could not have been happier, knowing he was going to have a brother or sister of his own to share his life with. From day one, the bond between the two of them was clear. The way they looked at each other was beyond compare. They each equally admired one another. As Carmen grew and became more mobile, he loved to challenge her! He ran circles around her and threw her toys so she would have to fetch them from the most precarious places, including behind the couch, where she would get stuck and need to be dragged out by her feet. He would just laugh uncontrollably and do it again as soon as no one was paying attention. Carmen became his little nurse, most days you would find her hovering over him with the doctors’ kit wide open giving him the full check up and making sure to listen to his special heart because she wanted to help try and fix it.

Because of Gio’s challenges, he spent many hours watching Disney movies, a passion he passed on to Carmen. Once he was able to enjoy this with her, he decided it was time and he wanted nothing more than to visit Disney World and see “the castle”. On short notice Gio was off on a road trip, not knowing anything about where he was going. Just over 24 hours later, he was passing through the main gates of Disney and the smile he had that day was shining brighter than the sun. When he saw that castle the next morning, he was over the moon with excitement, enjoying every last moment for one full week from morning till night, riding the Goofy rollercoaster so many times three full grown adults had to keep taking turns.

That summer we took a family road trip to Texas. Gio finally got to see where Daddy goes for work in what he called “the Texas building”. The whole journey across the U.S. and the pit stops along the way, including the glass pyramid where he got to see the Mighty Mississippi from atop the observation deck was a memory never to be forgotten. The whole family: Mom, Dad, Gio and Carmen, got to share a whole bunch of firsts together.

Over Gio’s almost 7 years, he was also challenged by delays and when it was time for school, he needed extra support. When the daycare he attended was not able to truly support his needs any longer, he was able to transition to a class at the Columbus School. They say everything happens for a reason. Well, he could not have been more blessed to be in the most loving and supportive classroom where he was able to thrive and enjoy the experiences of every other kid his age. Every day he traveled down Mystic Ave. or what Gio renamed Watermelon St., because of the bins of watermelons at Roberto’s, to a place he enjoyed each day. Sad as it was, Gio needed to move on to kindergarten and first grade. He moved to the Brooks School and he could not have been more blessed moving to a class that welcomed him with open arms, getting as much love and support as he could have ever hoped for.

Over the course of the last year Gio began to try and better understand his own body and his special heart. As he began to get a little sicker he asked many more questions. In his Gio way, he used his creativity to make his hospital time as enjoyable as he could. He turned his IV pole into Gio Robot, collecting the tourniquets from his blood draws for hair and getting his nurse to provide a Johnny like his to dress Gio robot. He even drew a heart, lungs and a stomach to pin on the Johnny bringing him to life for all 8 East.

He used Patch, his brave hearted lion, who also had a special heart, as his mini me. If Gio got an IV so did Patch. When Gio got his backpack, so did Patch, he even had a red cape just like Gio. Every trip to Children’s was Mom, Dad, Gio, and Patch in tow.

Gio has been blessed with the best team around him. Team Giovanni started with the It’s My Heart Walk, but extended so far beyond; it included family, friends, doctors, and nurses. The Team Giovanni family stretched far and wide.

Make-A-Wish and American Airlines gave Gio his greatest wish allowing him the opportunity to make a return trip to Disney this past September. For just a brief time we got to see the light of his smile shine. He enjoyed so much sharing his story, from his news interview, where he shared with the world how he wanted nothing more than “to spend time with his family” to sharing his heart story with every Disney character who was willing to listen. He wore his Make-A-Wish button with pride and wanted everyone to know who he was and how he had a special heart.

As if Gio was not savvy and determined enough already, his fluid restriction showed just how much so. He found every way to work the system. When anyone discussed it he always appeared to be lost in his iPad, paying no attention to you, but clearly heard every word. So began his special Tuesday tradition of watermelon at Au Bon Pain and water from Dr. Smoot courtesy of Elizabeth, Ice and all. Gio even figured out how to get some extra drinks by telling his sister to come sit with him and share. Carmen was THRILLED that her Big Brother wanted to share; she cuddled right up and handed over her juice. After he finished chugging it down she proudly floated, full of pride having been the best little sister ever, sharing with her brother and asked for more. At which point when being questioned Gio shouted from the other room “SORRY!”

Gio’s dream of owning a restaurant was recently brought to life by way of Luna Rossa who hosted a group of Team Giovanni supporters for a special lunch at the renamed “Gio’s Restaurant Fancy” with his special menu of cheese, crackers, ravioli with meatballs, grape soda, and cookies. They opened their hearts and kitchen to Giovanni giving him another memory many will never forget.

Market Basket was yet another kind group that not only welcomed Gio into their family, but they unknowingly joined Team Giovanni as well. He loved nothing more than his trips to the grocery store and they blessed him with full rein of the store to greet everyone as they were greeting him and fulfilling his own wish list of items, you know, every drink he had been asking for and dreaming of the many weeks preceding.

As Gio’s weeks were coming to a close, he secretly knew where his journey was going. He shared it with his hospice team, unbeknownst to us. He asked questions of Great Grandma, whom he had bonded with as a younger child, and where she was in heaven. He spoke of caterpillars, butterflies, and cocooning as he was seeing his path in front of him. As his time grew closer he was asked if he wanted to go to the hospital so they could make him feel better and he protested as he never had before. He had barely been awake, but mustered the energy to make his wish clear; he wanted to be at home.

We now understand why, as in his last moments he was surrounded by his family, all those who loved him to no end. Every aunt, uncle, and cousin, he may not have seen them but felt their presence. He departed this world surrounded by so much love. That if love could have saved him on this day it surely would have.

God please bless Giovanni, make sure he has every drink he could every want readily available to him so he can drink from the most beautiful fountain anyone could ever see.

#GioIsAwesome

Thank you!

WalkerGoalSo Far...

Amelia Campbell

250

Andrea Graziano

10075

Ann Graffeo

2550

Anthony DelSignore

2525

Anthony Graffeo

250

Antonia Graziano

250

Ashley Sullivan

5050

Becca Connerney

2525

Bella lavin

2525

Bernadette Graffeo

2550

Bill King

250

Bill Utterback

2525

Brianda Guerrero

250

Caitlin Murphy

10050

Camille Graffeo

250

Carmen Maggiore

2505288

Caroline Campbell

250

Charlie

250

Chris Maggiore

251000

Claudel Mejia

2545

Dan DelSignore

2525

Dan Doherty

2545

Dante Graziano

250

Elena Vershinina

2525

Elliott Campbell

250

Erin and matt

2520

Fran

2530

Gage Verity

250

Gail Fagundo

250

Gale Lynch

2525

Giacinto Graziano

250

Gus Cognata

100185

Gus M. Cognata

50170

James Peebles

200250

Jennie Graffeo

250

Jennifer Rose

5050

Jeremy Morris

250

Jodi Rose

2525

Joseph Rose

5050

Joyce Doherty

2555

Judie DelSignore

2525

Julie O'Neill

25100

Justin Saccone

2525

Karen Johnson

10025

Karen Utterback

2525

Katie Pyrcz

250

Kelly Perrier

250

Kevin Cognata

100145

Kia Rusconi

2525

Kristen Cognata

100175

Kyle DelSignore

2525

Liev Leshchiner

2525

Lily Morris

250

Linda Lavers

250

Lisa DiPrizio-Monteiro

2525

lVivienne Milburn

250

Mario Mejia

2525

Mariyah Mitchell

2525

Matt Lynch

2525

Matt Rameior

250

Matteo Graziano

250

Maureen Cognata

25150

Maya Maggiore

1002065

Mellisa Holland

1000

Mia Graffeo

250

Michael Graffeo

250

Michael Marino

2525

Nancy Ray

250

Nico Morris

250

Nicole Verrier

2525

Olga Vershinina

50350

Olivia Verity

250

Patrick Campbell

250

Patrick Campbell Jr

250

Peter Wollny

2560

Pirate

2575

Rachel Walsh

25175

Samantha Shaver

250

Sarah Cognata

100145

Shareen Mustafa

2525

Stanley Leshchiner

2525

Steve Monteiro

2525

Thomas Graffeo

5050

Tina Medeiros

100150

Tom DelSignore

2525

Tom Lavin

2525

Tom Lynch

2525

Tom Peebles

200200

Tori Verity

250

Trayvon Granville

2525

Vanessa

2550

Vincenza Graziano

250

Walter Coombs

250