March 16, 1990-March 17, 2013
Resident of Soquel
Gianna Rose Altano, born at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, CA, on March 16th, 1990, passed on March 17th, 2013, one day after her 23rd birthday at Stanford Hospital. A hero in life and in death through organ donation. Gianna was wise, kind, loving, joyful, and real. She truly appreciated every little thing in life, especially all the help she received along the way. An angel here on earth who always reminded us of what is most important, the bigger picture. A hub for many, people from all walks of life got together celebrating her through fundraising to find a cure for the disease that finally took her life, Cystic Fibrosis.
Gianna participated in a number of things throughout her life, from swimming as a toddler, vaulting on a horse, gymnastics, ballet, soccer on a team called “Flaming Snowballs”, Junior Life Guards in Capitola for several seasons, martial arts for 4 years where she received her brown sash and taught students for 2 of the 4 years she participated. She also participated on her high school swim team. Gianna loved music and played piano as a child, ukulele as an adult. Gianna was a true poet and these things we realize more deeply looking through her writing after her passing. Gianna was a shy and private person when it came to herself and her accomplishments. She was active in fundraising, always wishing she had the time and energy to help more.
Gianna had a true and deep love for the ocean, all its inhabitants and its well-being. She was active in Marine Biology and volunteered at Longs Marine Lab through the Seymour Center. Gianna moved to the North Shore of Oahu Hawaii for 9 months when she was 20, working as a hostess to get by, she got to surf, swim with dolphins, turtles, fish, and even in a cage with sharks.
As an adult Gianna found her true passion in American Sign Language, where she was working on getting her credential to become an interpreter. She expressed in her final month how happy she was to have truly found her passion in life. She taught us signs as communicating got tougher. She thought that may be a good idea to incorporate into the hospital for people through trying times of communicating.
She loved to craft and found endless joy in being with her sister and friends with a project, whether it be complex or as simple as making cookies. Her last craft was a “good things” jar in which you put every good thing that happens throughout the year into the jar and read it on NYE. She was very, very ill at this time and still always focusing on the positive things in life. Once Gianna was listed for a lung transplant, she designed a t-shirt to promote organ donation, which in turn she became a donator herself.
Gianna loved the holidays, especially Christmas with all the decorations and bright lights. But most of all she loved her sister Marissa, family, friends and animals, especially her dogs throughout the years. Towards her final days she found immense joy just being with them. One of her pet peeves was mobile phones and iPhones. She couldn’t understand how people could be together and want to be on their phone. Remember that, pay attention to one another, love, laugh, and just be. Slow down, sit with each other, listen and be happy you can breathe.
Gianna is survived by many close family and friends, including her eighteen-year-old sister Marissa, her loving parents Sydney and Danny Altano, and her grandmother Mary Lu Denham. Gianna’s Celebration of Life will be held at the Seascape Resort, Saturday March 30th @ 2:00pm. Bring a picture to share if you wish. Gianna would like it if we all wore happy clothes. In lieu of flowers we ask that donations be made to The Living Breath Foundation in memory of Gianna Rose Altano. 2031 Marsala Circle, Monterey, CA 93940 www.thelivingbreathfoundation.com. Thank You!
Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel on March 23, 2013