From the moment they met him, Gio’s volunteer wish granters observed something about him, even though he can only say a few words. “It’s easy to tell when he’s happy, as he likes laughing and clapping and squealing in delight,” says volunteer Erin Norman.
Although normally quiet around new people, Gio was “squealing, cooing, clapping and singing” with his wish granters.
Gio’s life has been anything but easy. Born healthy and typical, within his first six weeks he suffered a traumatic brain injury that doctors said he wouldn’t survive. But Stephanie, his mom, refused to accept that, saying “we have to give him the chance to survive.”
Her instincts were right. Though blind and unable to walk, and suffering from cerebral palsy, epilepsy and a kidney condition, Gio is now six years old, and a happy little boy who loves riding the bus to school and especially loves the water.
Being wheelchair-bound means that many of the places children love the most are just not very easy to visit. But knowing his love of water, Stephanie’s mom discovered a place called Morgan’s Wonderland, that is an ultra-accessible theme park. Stephanie chose Morgan’s Wonderland because “we wanted Gio to feel special, [to] let him know it was his day.” What she will remember most from their wish trip is his “biggest smiles ever.” For two days he went down slides, rode the rides and enjoyed Inspiration Island, the splash park. “He was always laughing, saying 'water' and 'pool.' He was just so happy.”
Photo credit: Beth Legg Photography
Currently, only half of the children in our community who are diagnosed with a critical illness get to experience a wish. We need your help to reach our goal of granting a wish for every eligible child, and when you give today, your contribution will have double the impact.
To help us make every wish come true, the Monterey Peninsula Foundation has offered a matching challenge. Every gift we receive this summer will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $60,000.