Saturday was a particularly difficult day for the family of Giovanni Cipriano. It was the one-year anniversary of the 14-year-old Lawrence boy’s death.
But Georgina Cipriano, Giovanni’s mother, said the sadness was made more bearable by what her son’s former schoolmates did for him.
Prior to Saturday’s homecoming game at Holy Trinity Diocesan High School in Hicksville, where Giovanni was a freshman last year, nearly 100 people gathered around a new memorial erected on school grounds.
They sang “Immaculate Mary” and prayed around the memorial, called the Our Lady of Fatima Grotto, which contains a statue of the Blessed Mother and a memorial plaque. After the service, Georgina Cipriano placed roses on the memorial and spoke to some of her son’s former schoolmates. Her daughter, Gianna, and Giovanni’s grandparents were seated nearby.
“If we didn’t have this, we would be sitting home and miserable,” she said.
Giovanni had been a student at Holy Trinity for only a few weeks when he suffered a severe allergic reaction at home after eating trail mix that he did not know contained peanuts, which he was allergic to.
Giovanni’s heart stopped en route to the hospital; he slipped into a coma and was on life support for weeks until he died on Oct. 18, 2013.
On Saturday, Georgina Cipriano remembered her son as being a “joker” and a “hurricane.”
“He never stopped moving from the moment he woke up,” she added.
Giovanni was also an honor student and an athlete who played travel baseball and had hopes of playing the sport for Trinity, too, she said.
Cory Robinson, president of Holy Trinity’s Class of 2014, said he and his classmates started raising funds for a legacy gift in Giovanni’s honor shortly after his death.
They collected nearly $9,000 during the course of their senior year by holding fundraising events and soliciting donations. Some of the materials for the memorial were donated by members of the school community, and a parent, Joe Pontes, who works as a contractor, provided the labor pro bono.
Robinson saw the project break ground toward the end of his senior year; the work was completed last week.
Robinson, who is now a student at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, returned to his alma mater Saturday to see the completed memorial for the first time and participate in the dedication service.
“It was very emotional,” said Robinson, 18, of Bethpage. “Just seeing the family makes it all pay off.”
Georgina Cipriano said she was grateful for what her son’s former schoolmates did.
“It was just amazing that in the short time that he was here that they embraced him with so much love and they showed him how wonderful everyone could be,” she said. “That love is what it’s all about.”