Meet Gio, our 2011 Ambassador
Giovanni Grandadam, 2, enjoys swimming and being outside playing with dirt, worms and leaves. He loves to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Gio, as he is called by his friends and family, is the son of Diana Contreras and Nathan Grandadam.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Ottawa resident was introduced as the 2010-11 Ambassador for Easter Seals of LaSalle and Bureau counties. Gio took it all in stride, playing with his favorite toys in Easter Seals’ Toddler Classroom and generally ignoring the cameras, press, family and staff there to celebrate with him.
Gio was born with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus. He had his first surgery at 23 hours of age and a second surgery within the first week. Since then, Gio has had seven surgeries and has been hospitalized 15 times, with one adventure on Life-Flight.
According to Diana Contreras, Gio began receiving services from Easter Seals as an infant. He currently receives in home developmental therapy services and participates in the Toddler Class. In addition, he receives physical therapy from another agency and is looking at Easter Seals’ new speech therapy program in Princeton.
Diana Contreras said of her son, “even though he (Gio) has a disability, he has adapted and learned other ways to move around and do what all the kids his age are doing.” Indeed, Geio moved from toy to toy during the press conference. Gio’s grandmother, Maggie Contreras, credits her grandson with giving her strength and inspiration.
Easter Seals of LaSalle and Bureau Counties provides developmental and speech screenings, evaluations and therapy to children ages 0–3 and provides child care and preschool services to children ages 6 weeks to 12 years with and without special needs. It recently moved its Autism Resource Center to its main office at 1013 Adams St. in Ottawa. The Autism Resource Center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Ambassador will represent Easter Seals over the next year, including appearing at public events such as Walk With Me (the annual 5K Run/Walk) and Telethon.
"Giovanni “Gio” Grandadam is now 11 years old! He attends Central Intermediate School in Ottawa as a 5th grader. He has a best bud, Kaz, and enjoys making his peers laugh. Gio loves playing outside; dirt, rain or snow will not slow him down!
His favorite downtime entertainment is his IPad and games.
It has been a very entertaining 9 years since Gio has been ambassador, he has accomplished so many goals. He has become very independent, gained so much confidence in and out of school, and has been living a fun, adventurous life.
He has a great support system that loves and encourages him to meet the goals we learned through Easter Seals now Starved Rock Regional Center.
Thank You all for that amazing year as Ambassador we will never forget the year Gio truly felt famous."