QUEENS, NY (September 1, 2011)—Anthony Giangiobbe, 20, an avid New York Mets fan with autism and one of the original six children who attended AHRC’s early intervention programs at the age of three, threw out the first pitch at a Mets-Marlins game at Citi Field thanks to EmblemHealth, which provides health care coverage through its companies Group Health Incorporated (GHI) and HIP Health Plan of New York (HIP).
Top: Anthony Giangiobbe (left) with souvenir baseball celebrates his first pitch with his dad Daniel Giangiobbe and Mets catcher Josh Thole. Bottom: Mr. Met gives Anthony Giangiobbe a thumbs up before the first pitch. Photos by Marc S. Levine/New York Mets.
Mr. Giangiobbe, who lives with his family in Middle Village, NY, was accompanied by his parents Rose and Daniel Giangiobbe and his sister Sara, and Christina Muccioli, AHRC’s Director of Educational Services and James Mara, Principal of the AHRC Middle/High School in Brooklyn.
“Everyone loves Anthony,” says Ms. Muccioli, adding that his heartwarming story was featured in a 2010 AHRC fundraising appeal. “Anthony was one of the original preschoolers at AHRC and has been with us since the age of three. Over the years, he’s grown and thrived alongside his peers and has become a real inspiration for families with autistic children.”
Anthony was beyond thrilled when he found out he’d be throwing the first pitch at a Mets game,” says his mother Rose, adding that Anthony’s favorite Mets players are outfielder Jason Bay, third baseman David Wright and pitcher Jason Isringhausen. “He wanted to tell everyone and is getting ready by practicing throwing pitches with his Dad.”
According to Ms. Giangiobbe, Anthony has many interests. In addition to baseball, he loves football, NASCAR and golf, cooking shows, singing and all kinds of music, ranging from Frank Sinatra to the Beatles. He even saw Paul McCartney in concert. He is the go-to guy when the family needs the name of any artist on the radio.
She says things were very different when Anthony was first diagnosed.
“At the age of three, Anthony was severely autistic and very impaired,” she says. “He didn’t sleep, wouldn’t leave the house, had no eye contact, and did not speak. It was very difficult, and we never could have imagined that we would feel so blessed today by how far he’s come. Thanks to the program at AHRC, we saw a miracle unfold. He’s become a totally different person with many interests, enthusiasms and a sense of humor.”
Anthony Giangiobbe (left) gets ready to throw the first pitch at the New York Mets-Marlins game as his dad Daniel Giangiobbe looks on. Photo by Marc S. Levine/New York Mets.
This summer, Mr. Giangiobbe sang at his graduation from AHRC Middle/High School. There, he participated in numerous internships and volunteer programs, including a senior center, where he prepared and distributed food trays; at Maimonides Medical Center; Meals on Wheels; and an after school program through Life’s WORC, where he volunteered at a local pharmacy.
This fall, he will enter AHRC’s Dayhab Without Walls program in Queens, where participants go into the community and volunteer. Through a process known as person-centered planning, Anthony is seen as the truly unique person he is, and as a consequence his and his family’s hopes and dreams are taken into account to create a productive, personal life plan.
“Anthony is like Forest Gump,” says his father Daniel. “He’s always in the right place at the right time. Wonderful things always happen to him. He had a rough start but now there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and I feel privileged to have him as my son.”
This is the 11th consecutive year EmblemHealth has passed along the honor of throwing the first pitch at a Mets game to a deserving New Yorker. It is part of the company’s ongoing commitment to encourage health and fitness, and give back to the communities it serves.
“Anthony Giangiobbe is living proof that it’s possible to thrive and contribute when facing a difficult challenge,” says Frank Branchini, President and COO of EmblemHealth. “He is an inspiration and a role model, and we are delighted to make this Mets fan’s dream come true.”
EmblemHealth, Inc., through its companies Group Health Incorporated (GHI) and HIP Health Plan of New York (HIP), provides quality health care coverage and administrative services to approximately 2.9 million people. Groups and individuals can choose from a variety of PPO, EPO and HMO plans, as well as coverage for prescription drugs and dental and vision care. Our plans offer a choice of networks, including access to: quality doctors and other health care professionals in convenient locations throughout the region; the leading acute care hospitals across the tristate region; and physicians and hospitals across all 50 states. For more information, visit www.emblemhealth.com.
AHRC New York City, a family-governed organization, is dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, and their families. AHRC currently serves over 13,000 individuals with developmental disabilities throughout the five boroughs. The array of residential, day habilitation, educational, advocacy, respite, and medical services offered by the organization is unsurpassed. For additional information about AHRC, please visit www.ahrcnyc.org. Follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AHRC.NYC or Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/AHRCNYC.