Jen and Levi
Learning Giraffe develops entertaining and educational apps for children of ALL abilities. This innovative company was created by Natalie Dragotto and Jennifer Straiton, two mothers with a courageous and inspiring story.
Both their young children, Gianna and Levi were diagnosed under the age six months with catastrophic seizure disorders and significant special needs.
I met Jennifer and Levi at the California Integrated Hyperbaric Center, A Place of Grace, in May 2009, Levi was only 10 months old and Gianna was 4 ½ years old. I felt a connection with this family immediately because it was the first time I’d seen a child with severe epilepsy similar to my daughter Gianna’s seizures.
Having dealt with years of Gianna’s severe epilepsy, I’m sure all my information was overwhelming to this new mom dealing with such a catastrophic diagnosis. She had just gotten out of a 30 day hospital stay where she had been told to sign a DNR, Do Not Resuscitate order, (which she refused) because her son had almost died from pneumonia and severe seizures. But through all the chaos, I was impressed with how proactive Jennifer was at researching the top doctors, top therapies and everything possible to heal Levi. I remember how hard it was for us to even leave the house when Gianna was 10 months old, let alone do alternative therapies. Watching Jennifer battle for her child I knew this was a mom that I would want to be friends with, because like myself, this was a mom that was not about to give up.
Eventually we both had to quit our jobs to take care of our little ones. To pay to take her son to specialists, Jennifer had just finished another fundraiser. But would one specialist appointment be enough? She knew the answer was no. Doctors and therapies costs $100,000's a year. Jen quickly realized she was going to have to be continuously fundraising to continue many of Levi's treatments.
It was at that point, we came up with an idea of an app business instead of fundraising. Why not start a business we could do around our children's busy medical world schedules, that would be creative and inspiring, and that we could get paid for? Silly Spin ABC began to evolve.
Without Jennifer, my idea of doing an app would still be just an idea. Through her connections in the entertainment industry, she brought in a team of phenomenally talented people, who made this whole project come together.
Jennifer is a great friend and mom who has encouraged me to be creative and to stay strong by focusing on something fun and inspiring ... that did not involve medical issues! I am forever grateful of her friendship.
About Learning Giraffe
Natalie and Gianna
Copyright 2013. Learning Giraffe. All rights reserved.
Natalie Dragotto is the most positive person I know, especially when it comes to her daughter Gianna. Her beautiful little girl was diagnosed with a rare metabolic disorder called CDG1k (Congenital Disorders of Glycosylation) shortly after birth, which causes global delays as well as severe epilepsy. This disorder comes with a very serious prognosis, but when I first met Natalie she said, "My mom would never have given up on me and I will never give up on Gianna!" To this day, her determination is unwavering. She inspires and gives everyone around her strength.
I met them in May 2009 when we were both doing Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy with our children. Natalie was just beginning to dream up the idea for Silly Spin ABC. She was inspired because she had recently discovered that her daughter (with all her delays and issues) could actually interact with apps on her iPhone. As Gianna progressed with different apps, Natalie realized everyone had underestimated her daughter's ability. It was a life changing moment
and Natalie realized how much potential her daughter had. Everyone was amazed at how playing apps helped Gianna's eye-hand coordination and how she would wait appropriately for the app to prompt her. Her daughter was showing the world how smart she was!
At the time, there were not a lot of great apps designed for the special needs player, Natalie decided to create an app that was awesome for typical kids, but also designed for a child with any ability so that Gianna could play right alongside them. She wanted her daughter to love it, so she promised Gianna she would add in all her favorite things ... a wheel, silly actions and funny sound effects.
Natalie worked day and night, between ER visits, doctor's office and therapy appointments learning Photoshop, Illustrator and development to create this innovative app full of wonderful surprises for all children.
Well, five years later, Silly Spin ABC is for sale on iTunes and Android! It is quite an accomplishment. She had a dream and made it happen.
Natalie is a wonderful mother, a fantastic friend and a constant inspiration to remind us all that if your set your mind to do something you can do anything.
The name Learning Giraffe was inspired by their two children. The ‘L’ stands for Levi and the ‘G’ for Gianna.
Giraffes represents growth, reaching to new heights and adapting to survive.
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As if by fate, these two moms met just as the medical bills to care for their children had become unmanageable. With a mutual dream to heal their babies, they decided to take a leap of faith and instead of continuous fundraising, start an app development company to raise these much needed funds.
It is with great pride, Learning Giraffe announces the launch of their first app Silly Spin ABC, on both iTunes and Google Play. This beautifully illustrated alphabet app, complete with a spinning wheel, dynamic interactions, silly sound effects and the rocking-est ABC song ever, teaches children their ABC's. Even if you already know your ABC’s, there are over 150 hidden interactive actions and fun facts waiting to be discovered with every spin. Silly Spin ABC sparks children's imagination and provides endless entertainment you can take everywhere.
These two MOM-treprenuers hope you will share your love of helping children by supporting this outstanding app. EVERY sale of Silly Spin ABC benefits the healing of their two brave children and simultaneously brings joy and education for every child learning their ABC's.
Thank you for purchasing the Silly Spin ABC app and for sharing it and Gianna and Levi's courageous story with everyone you know.