Sports Volunteer of the Month: Daniel Giordani

VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH


Pacific Western Bank in Santa Barbara

This monthly series is made possible by Pacific Western Bank

Volunteers often go under-recognized even though they are extremely important to the athletic community.

So important that many of the sporting events and organizations key to our lives wouldn’t be possible without those who donate their time to assist others.

Presidio Sports and Pacific Western Bank have joined forces to change that. This monthly spotlight series is our way of thanking those that selflessly give themselves for the benefit of many.

To all volunteers making a difference, we salute you.

For his demonstrated leadership commitment to the important mission of Special Olympics of Santa Barbra County as a student activist, ambassador, mentor and community visionary, Daniel Giordani, an 18 year-old Dos Pueblos senior, is named our latest local sports Volunteer of the Month.

Daniel Giordano

Daniel Giordano

Since enrolling at DP two years ago after being home-schooled, Giordani has quickly had a ‘high octane’ impact in launching the school’s on-campus Special Olympics Club and in breaking down perceived barriers community-wide in promoting the abilities of Special Olympians through its first two (don’t use the) “R-Word” Campaigns. Finally, in recently serving as a ambassador and mentor representing Special Olympics of Southern California and the United States at the 2013 World Games in Korea.

It all comes with a rare blend of youthful exuberance and seasoning well beyond his years …

“He’s just a remarkable young man,” says Aaron Brown, chair of the Special Olympics of Santa Barbara leadership advisory committee, longtime volunteer coach and a local financial planner with Edward Jones.

For Giordani, it’s a journey started very innocently as a five year old when he would accompany his dad, Doug, on holiday singing gigs to Devereux School – then a bustling local residential facility with programs for adults and elders with developmental, intellectual and emotional challenges.

“I loved hanging out with my dad in that environment,” claims the younger Giordani.

While Presidio Sports was interviewing Giodani at Camino Real Marketplace, DPHS Special Olympian Christina Shackelford happened to pass  by and stopped to say hello!

While Presidio Sports was interviewing Giodani at Camino Real Marketplace, DPHS Special Olympian Christina Shackelford happened to pass
by and stopped to say hello!

The seeds were planted.

Fast-forward years later to age 14 — Daniel transitioned his interest to that of an active volunteer coach for Special Olympics Fall (track) Games.

“Awesome experience!” he states.

And he was just getting warmed up.

When he noticed the stage wasn’t accessible to wheelchair-bound athletes to most appropriately receive their ribbons and awards, Giordani, literally, took matters into his own hands.

Next year – problem solved!

For his Eagle Scout Project for his Boy Scout Troop, he built a larger stage, complete with ramps so ALL athletes could celebrate their thrill of victory as everyone else.

It’s an easy example of Giordani’s ‘make it happen,’ can-do approach to life.

“And because of Daniel, we now have a Special Olympics Club at DP creating opportunity and more inclusion for students in Special Education,” says Sara Spataro, executive director for Special Olympics of Santa Barbara County.

“We want to encourage more high school students to get involved as leaders like him in the Special Olympics movement to create awareness and inclusion,” she adds.

This club is comprised of 20 Special Olympians and five volunteers – all of whom attend DPHS.

“Daniel made the club happen,” echoes Sherie Shackelford whose daughter Christina, 18, participates with Special Olympics.

“My Christina loves the training and competition that the club provides along with the social aspects of the meetings and enjoying lunches together.”

The club is poised to continue after Giordani’s upcoming June graduation.

“We have an excellent board and leadership in place to keep it going,” he says.

Aaron Brown, left, Giordano, center, and Abraham, right, on their trip to Korea

Aaron Brown, left, Giordano, center, and Abraham Moreno, right, on their trip to Korea representing all of Southern California.

So when it was time for Special Olympics of Santa Barbara to select an ambassador/mentor for their three-person delegation for the 2013 World Games, there was one clear choice …

“We were very excited to send Daniel to Korea, along with Special Olympian Abraham Moreno in representing Special Olympics of Southern California,’’ Spataro stated. “Daniel and Abraham shared their media presentations with athletes and ambassadors from 30 countries. Daniel put a lot of time and effort into preparing for the trip and leading the way.”

Rounding out this delegation was Brown who served as chaperon.

“It really was a pleasure to accompany Daniel and Abraham as part of the larger 12-person U.S. delegation,” he says. “I was so proud of and impressed with both of them. It’s clear that Daniel will leave his mark on the world. It turned out to be the experience of a lifetime for all of us!’

“It was eye-opening. I saw a very different aspect of life in Korea,” adds Giordani.

“And I have a better understanding of Special Olympics and the values we share in providing opportunities to succeed in life.”

And the next step in Giordani’s life journey is clear: college.

He plans to either attend SBCC to save money and to attain his associates’ degree before transferring to UCLA or attend California Maritime Academy to major in business and international logistics.

Whichever path, he has already proven to be a savvy businessman and investor.

“I’ve been investing for my older brother and have made him a lot of money,” he smiles. “When I was about age 10, I told my grandmother to buy 1,000 shares of Google when it was at $20. She would be worth a lot of money today if she had!”

(Google now trades at $793.37 per share.)

And Giordani has some sage advice for others considering a community investment …

“Identify an opportunity where you can help and jump in,” he says.  “Don’t wait. Because the sooner you volunteer, the sooner it will change your perspective.”

Giordani believes he’s richer for the volunteer experience …

“I’ve gotten more of out it than what I’ve put in and I give all the credit to my family for their love and support,” he states.

“My parents raised us with the notion of ‘whatever I do – do with all my might. And treat others with respect. And think about others before myself,’” he adds. Like mom Cheryl, who now serves Carpinteria’s special needs students.

It’s all working rather nicely …

Already at a very young age, our Volunteer of the Month is having a profound and very positive community impact and his star is very bright.

He says: “It’s an honor to receive this award and I appreciate whomever nominated me. And I’m going to keep on going…”

And he’s just getting warmed up folks, so ‘watch out world’ – here comes Daniel Jacob Giordani!!

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