Rocco Fiorentino is the prime example of living life to the fullest! At the age of 19, he is a jazz pianist, arranger and vocalist, he has been fortunate to perform for Stevie Wonder and Tony Bennett, be an inspiration on “Sesame Street” and accomplished his dream of going to Berklee College of Music one year earlier by completing high school in three years.
And, knowing this, it may be surprising that Rocco is totally blind. He believes anyone can have success, “if you just believe in yourself.” Blind due to premature birth, Rocco is an advocate for all children who are blind or visually impaired. 2011, Rocco was named one of the Top Ten Youth Volunteers in the USA by Prudential Community Spirit Award for his Humanitarian efforts across the country.
It’s clear that Rocco Fiorentino learned early on that the only way to live is to never give up hope. Rocco was born four months premature, weighing only one and a half pounds. He had less than a 5% chance to survive, and he lost his twin brother at birth. After six months and ten surgeries, he was released from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Facing more challenges than they could imagine, his parents, Tina and Rocco Fiorentino, forged ahead and decided their baby would grow up in a sighted world and learn to adapt as best as he could, never imagining he would flourish and become the wonderful human being and gifted musician he is today.
When Rocco was one, his parents formed The Little Rock Foundation to support other families with children who are blind and visually impaired. It’s amazing all the good they have done! Rocco, the Ambassador for The Foundation since he’s five, lobbied NJ legislators and, because of him, $1.2 million has been dedicated to Braille education in the state. He also launched “Blindness Awareness Month” in October, 2009 in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and is now in 44 states across America!
He performs whenever he can. In 2012, he was featured in a documentary called “Shining in the Dark” in New York City, In 2010, Rocco was featured in a musical film called “Standing Ovation” where he played the young pianist, singer and music engineer named Rocco. In that same year, he appeared on a segment of Sesame Street that has been repeated around the world ever since. He sings a jazz song with the cast, demonstrating that being blind doesn’t have to hold one back from making dreams come true. Always inspirational with his positive outlook, he puts Elmo at ease when talking about blindness, therefore being a positive role model for children around the world.
Rocco’s humanitarian efforts have been recognized throughout the country. Governor Christie bestowed him with the Jefferson award. In the summer of 2010, he was one of the Top Ten Finalists in the national “Keep Going Hall of Fame Award” for Energizer Bunny. He received The Louis Braille Award presented by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter for the Associated Services of the Blind. In October 2009 he was honored to receive the "Hands On" Award from the National Braille Press, an award that was given to First Lady Laura Bush and author J.K. Rowling of the famed Harry Potter book series. In addition, he was one of 12 youth Kohl’s Kids Who Care Scholarship winners.