Merrick Herald Life Person of the Year: Michael Giangregorio

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JPMorgan Chase, a Fortune 500 company with tens of thousands of employees and $3 trillion in assets, funds health care for its workers without an insurance company. As such, it was not bound by provisions of the state’s new autism coverage law. Giangregorio, who is on Chase’s leadership committee, lobbied the company to fund autism treatments for its employees –– and Chase agreed.

“For many years, my son was unable to receive the necessary treatments he needs due to a lack of insurance treatment coverage,” Giangregorio said. “Thank you to the leadership of JPMorgan Chase for recognizing this need, and for taking the necessary steps to help ensure that my son reaches his fullest potential.”

Chase will begin funding autism treatments in January.

For his work on behalf of the autism community, Giangregorio received the 2012 Good Works Volunteer of the Year Award and was recognized by President Obama. We can think of few people more deserving of the honor than he.

‘Walking on eggshells’

Nicholas is now a student at the Genesis-Eden II School in East Meadow, where he receives the one-on-one attention he needs. Michael and Alison, an aide at Camp Avenue Elementary School in North Merrick and a member of the Long Island Consumer Council, are concentrating on providing Nicholas with the basic life skills he needs to survive. Their older son, Michael, 14, is a mainstream student at Calhoun High School.

The Giangregorios are taking life one day at a time, as they say. “We go through life walking on eggshells,” Michael said. “We don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

“We embrace the positives, no matter how small,” he added. “That gives us hope. When you have a son who is diagnosed with such a severe disability, there are a couple of different ways to handle it. You can be angry. Anger is debilitating. It’s a very ugly feeling. I chose, rather than to be angry, to focus on the positive and making a difference.”

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