Gino Altieri is the 'Light Seen Around the World,' Says Teacher
Whether they knew him or not, people around the country were putting on their porch light for Gino Altieri who died Sunday. His teacher said he touched so many lives throughout his 10-year journey on Earth.
"You've heard of 'The shot heard 'round the world' ... well, I think Gino is the light seen around the world," said Susan Deitrick, Gino's teacher. "People who never even met him seem to have found light and hope just reading or hearing of his valor, his feistiness in the face of the dreadful foe, cancer, or 'Grievous' as the little Star Wars fan referred to it."
As of 8 p.m. June 25, 78 people left comments on the original story about Gino. Of them, many say that they had never met the little boy, but had learned about his journey through Caring Bridge or Facebook.
- "Our light is on in Midland, Texas. I never had the pleasure to meet Gino but heard how special he was. Heaven gained a sweet wonderful little boy. Praying for the family to keep hope in Jesus!" Janice Van Huss wrote.
- "Although we never met Gino, his aunt and godmother, Andrea talked of him often. I have been inspired by his fight and prayed many nights. His strength was like no other. I pray for his family and hope his light shines on forever. He is now above with his wings spread wide, hugging his family as he guards them and smiles down upon them. Our lights are on in Diamond, Illinois. Shine on Jedi Gino!" wrote Jennifer Kenney.
- "We never met Gino but our hearts are sad and our prayers many. Heaven has gained a beautiful angel. God will watch over all of you. Our porch lights are on in Akron's North Hill. Rest in peace Gino," wrote Judie Nervo.
Those who knew him and his family well, wrote about the Lakeview Intermediate student's bravery and sent condolences and prayers.
- "It was a blessing and a privilege to be your godfather and Zio (uncle) Gino!! You will be sorely missed and life will never be the same without you lil man! It's gonna be so different without you! You're the bravest person I've ever know! You fought 'til your very last breath! You fought your own war and you earned that purple heart I got you! I'll never forget our memories together! Love you bud! Light's on in Cuyahoga Falls and forever in my heart!" wrote Pete Altieri.
Deitrick, who had Gino as a student at Lakeview and was his counselor, said she has been close with the family for the past year.
"It has been an incredible journey. I feel closer to the family than I would have felt possible in such a short time — but that's just the way it was with Gino," she said. "Meeting him was like meeting someone you've always known. There is just some kind of spiriualt connection that defies explanation. It's the same with his folks."
Deitrick's porch light in Stow was on for her student Monday evening.
"I'm no one special, just another person who was caught up in the light of the little Jedi warrior, Gino Altieri," she said.
Gino had been battling cancer, Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma — an aggressive pediatric cancer that affects soft tissue, since Sept. 14 2010.
"Little 'Jedi Gino' refused to give in to the monster that was attacking him from so many directions. Like a Jedi warrior, he stood up and dared it to try and take him down," said Deitrick. "'Grievous' was absolute darkness but it could not put out the absolute goodness of Jedi Gino. Everytime it knocked himdown, instead of giving in to the darkness and running scared, Gino rose to the occasion and pumped his light up a little higher and stronger."
Gino passed away Sunday afternoon surrounded by family and friends.
"The darkness didn't win," she said. "God simply reached down and lifted that little light up gently and set it a top the highest point of heaven for the whole universe to see."
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