Family members, friends, teachers and classmates on Wednesday mourned the loss of 14-year-old Giovanni Cipriano, who died Saturday weeks after suffering a massive allergic reaction to peanuts.
Every seat at Our Lady of Peace Church in Lynbrook was filled, with more people standing in the back. After the funeral mass, teenagers clutched each other and wept outside the church.
Those who knew him described Giovanni, a Lawrence Middle School graduate attending Holy Trinity Diocesan High School, as a warm, caring person who loved children and animals. He was an honor student and baseball player. He had an affinity for practical jokes, and was always filled with smiles and laughter, said his father, John Cipriano.
“Since the day you were born, I was so proud that you were my son,” said John, surrounded by Giovanni’s mother and sister, during the funeral. “I look at your picture and can’t believe this is happening. You were my best friend. This last year you were my rock.”
He said his son will never finish high school, go to prom, play in the major leagues, get married and have kids.
“He was filled with an upbeat spirit that was able to lift other people’s spirits,” said Msgr. William Breslawski, who led the service. “He made the world a better place. God looked at him and said, ‘good job, my friend.’”
He added that Giovanni will be waiting for his friends and family in the next life.
Stephanie Paz, a guidance counselor at Lawrence High School who worked with Giovanni’s sister, said the “kids are devastated here.”
John Cipriano, however, pointed to one positive thing.
“The last few weeks, the craziest thing happened. People all across the country and Europe sent us support,” he said. “There are no words spoken that can express the gratitude we’ve felt over the last few weeks.”The HAFTR Hawks and Inwood Buccaneers will host a basketball game on Nov. 6 at 8 p.m. in honor of Giovanni Cipriano. All proceeds will be donated to the Cipriano family.