After a frightening five months in the dark, doctors at Children's determined that Giovanni had NEMO, a rare immune-deficiency disorder. He needed a bone-marrow transplant immediately. The chances of finding a match, experts told Guglielmo, was one in 20,000.
So Guglielmo did what he had always done: he went on a rampage.
At first he sought help indiscriminately, swabbing mouths everywhere from union halls to motorcycle clubs. He also rented billboard space in Boston and New York, and convinced local and national newscasts to run features. Giovanni has been recognized by outlets from NPR to the Boston Herald, the latter of which has featured his adorably plump baby face on page one several times. Guglielmo even worked angles to have Pope Benedict give Giovanni an apostolic blessing, and to get his son a trip to Disney World through the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
That same sense of urgency may have been what lead Guglielmo to call up Dale Robinson — the cop who had testified against him at every parole hearing. The cop who had given the order, during that fateful standoff, for snipers to shoot to kill.
Now, Guglielmo was asking for his help hosting a DKMS event at city hall.
At first, Robinson was taken aback.
But Guglielmo started talking about Giovanni. Robinson agreed to help.
It wasn't the last time the two would talk. Robinson has become an important contact for Guglielmo, helping to secure permits for a number of marrow-drive events. He's gotten clearance for Guglielmo's trailer — plastered with a picture of Giovanni's face— to be parked in downtown Manchester as a billboard for long periods of time.
MAN WITH A MISSION Photos of Michael Guglielmo's son, Giovanni, plaster the trailer he uses as a billboard to recruit potential bone-marrow donors.
"If he screws up, he'll find my foot someplace," says Robinson. He is officially retired these days, but still works part-time at the Manchester Police Department. He has a picture of Giovanni over his desk.
"Michael is a bit rough around the edges, but I marvel at what he's done and the lives he's helped save," Robinson says. "I wouldn't call him my close friend, but I certainly have a lot of respect for him. I've even met his mother. It was an interesting experience — she whispered in my ear, 'Thank you for not killing my son.'"
Guglielmo sits at his kitchen table, with his shirt off, explaining the tattoos that reflect his roller-coaster ride. On his left hand there's a puzzle piece to represent his bone-marrow crusade — everyone, he says, "can be the missing piece to someone's life." His back is a canvas for a Giovanni mural in progress. There's a drop of blood on his chest for every year he sat in prison, and beneath that, a complex tangle of dragons, birds, and flames. The tattoos on his chest are marred by a swatch of scar tissue — a souvenir of his last brush with violence.
Three years ago, he tried to break up an out-of-control party at a rental property he owned. Guglielmo emerged with stab wounds — and a charge of disorderly conduct. He was still on parole, and by being charged, he was risking his freedom. But the parole board let him go with a fine, and in 2011 they released him from his parole three years early.