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Lighton with Di Stadio

FEATURES

Everyday Superheroes

By Robin Hodes

Portrait by Nicholas Mele | Lilly Pulitzer’s Beach Bash Palm Beach photo by Tracey Benson Photography

05.08.18

Though they might not possess actual superpowers, that doesn’t stop Palm Beach’s Gio and Jack from saving the planet.

Whether you discover them by tuning into their podcast and radio show showcasing social philanthropy, Gio & Jack’s Palm Beach and The Hampton’s Social, or are lucky enough to engage in small talk with them at one of the many charity balls they attend on the island, you’ll find that Giovanni “Gio” Di Stadio and Jack Lighton are an engaging and inspirational couple who instantly captivate an audience. Their joint mission is to share their contagious passion for supporting the community through philanthropy—and not just by donating dollars, but by spreading the word and increasing awareness.

Our combined dedication to animal welfare “is in both of our DNA,” says Di Stadio. While on what he calls “permanent hiatus” from his thriving career in real estate and its consequent progression into owning his own interior design firm, Interiors by G, Di Stadio’s singular focus is now on being co-founder, president and CEO of the North American Veterinary Heart Center. Lighton, once senior vice president at Harris Interactive, a global Nielsen brand of advertising consultancy, is now at the helm of Loggerhead Marinelife Center, serving as president and CEO.

Soulmates for 17 years, Di Stadio and Lighton found each other in South Florida, and it was their separate, though simultaneous, searches for a cure that led them to careers they love. Lighton sought to heal his melancholy for leaving friends behind when his family relocated and his parents took him to an event that would forever change his life: to see a loggerhead sea turtle nesting on the beach. He was so enamored by the experience that the family visited Loggerhead Marinelife Center the very next day, and his fate was sealed. With three campuses, Loggerhead Marinelife Center is one of the world’s most advanced sea turtle hospitals and ocean conservation hubs, with 67 global partners on six continents in 16 countries. Meanwhile, Di Stadio longed to save their beloved Shih Tzu, Bella, who was suffering from congestive heart failure. His tireless global search led him to one of only two surgeons in the world performing the rare procedure of open-heart surgeries on canines and, eventually, to the center’s co-founder, Dr. Augusta Pelosi. Sadly, it was too late for Bella, but through Di Stadio’s love for Bella, he proposed the idea of building a hospital—and, now, the Heart Center, located in Jupiter, is the most advanced cardiac-care facility worldwide.

So, what does this extraordinary couple do when they’re not leaving their mark? They brunch, of course. One can safely assume that pecan French toast, applewood bacon and mimosas are their “kryptonite,” but, besides that, Di Stadio and Lighton are otherwise invincible.

Saving sea turtles in Palm Beach is always in style.