‘I remember reading him one of my favorite books’: Family donates books in son’s memory

In Memory of Gian Ortiz

The News10NBC Team details breaking News, Traffic and Weather.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A Rochester family teamed up with the Rochester Education Foundation to donate books to students, in their son’s memory.

It’s a nightmare no family wants to experience, losing a child.

Little Gian Ortiz died after he spent five months in the neonatal intensive care unit. He was just two years old.

Though his life was short, his family cherished every moment with their little boy.

“We were very active with Gian and making sure that he just wasn’t confined to a room just because he was medically fragile and had a lot of equipment,” said mom Denishea Ortiz. “We went out on hikes, we did lots of walks.”

She said reading to Gian was one of their favorite things to do.

“Books was one of the things that we can connect with him because he was in the NICU for five months,” she said. “So that was really the only thing we could do. Once he came home, he really gravitated towards books and liked to touch, feel, and turn the pages.”

The Ortiz family — Denishea and Orlando Ortiz and son Esaias, with a photo of 2-year-old Gian, who died after five months in neonatal ICU. The family has teamed with Rochester Education Foundation to collect and donate books to students in Gian’s memory. (Photo provided)

So, they started a book drive to give other students in the community that same opportunity.

“It’s always great to be able to provide students, especially students of color, an opportunity to receive themselves in books,” said dad Orlando Ortiz. “So, the books that we select are typically books of color so that we make sure, again, they reflect themselves and the books they’re reading and the stories they’re being read.”

Today, Gian would have been in third grade. Tuesday, the family donated books and school supplies to school Number #9’s third grade class, and Gian’s brother Esaias got to represent his little brother in front of students just like him.

“We always read to him,” Esaias said. “I remember reading him one of my favorite books, ‘Goodnight Moon,’ and one of my favorite memories was playing with him. He would always play with my little cars, and it meant so much to me,” he said.

So though Gian may not be here, his memory and legacy remain strong.

“Me being the president of the Puerto Rican festival, seeing him at the Puerto Rican festival at least once, being able to see his face light up and smile and just be out in the open among our community was always great to see,” Orlando Ortiz said.

Next year the Ortiz family will donate to a fourth-grade class because that’s what grade Gian would’ve been in.

So far, they’ve collected over 1,500 books.

The family also donates books to the NICU at Golisano Children’s Hospital.

If you would like to donate: www.rochestereducation.org