Boys & Girls Club members gathered in the Lee Wetherington Club’s gymnasium Thursday, August 11, to celebrate the academic success of five outstanding Club members with ESPN Television sports analyst, author and philanthropist Dick Vitale. Vitale and his wife Lorraine presented $5,000 worth of scholarships to five college-bound Club members who will be pursuing degrees in higher education this fall . Each recipient was awarded $1,000 to help them continue their academic journeys.
“The Vitales are incredibly generous contributors of our organization who understand the importance of providing greater opportunities for the children in our community who need assistance the most,” said Bill Sadlo, President/CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County.
Vitale encouraged the Club members to stay focused on their goals, and to take advantage of the great resources available to them through their memberships at the Boys & Girls Club.
“All of you are here today because someone loves you, and wants to see you succeed,” said Vitale. “Your counselors at the Boys & Girls Club care about you, and your future. Nothing will stop you from reaching your dreams if you continue to make the right choices. If you want to make it, you can.”
Over the past 18 years, the Vitale family has generously donated a total of $90,000 in scholarships for Club members. In addition to personal contributions, the Vitales have helped raise more than $1 million for the organization’s high-quality programs and services that are designed to enhance children’s academic success, character and leadership development and healthy lifestyles.
“The years of loyalty and support from the Vitales help us ensure that success is within reach of every young person who walks through our doors, with all members on track to graduate from high school with a plan for the future,” said Sadlo. The following 2016 Dick Vitale Scholarship recipients were chosen by Club staff for their commitment to their education and outstanding leadership qualities:
• Priscilla Angeles, 18, is a member at the Gene Matthews Boys & Girls Club for almost two years, and graduated from Port Charlotte High. She will study Social Work at State College of Florida.
• Eighteen-year-old Caylee Lombardi is a Venice High School graduate who attended the Robert and Joan Lee Boys & Girls Club for ten years. She will pursue a degree in Nuclear Engineering with a minor in Biomedical Engineering at State College of Florida.
• Twelve-year member at the Gene Matthews Boys & Girls Club Alyson Lorefice, 18, graduated from Imagine School of North Port. She will focus on Environmental Engineering/ Chemistry at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
• Omar Lyons-Davis, 18, graduated from Sarasota Military Academy and has been a member at the Roy McBean Boys & Girls Club for 12 years. He will join Alyson at Duquesne University. Omar plans to study Business Administration with an emphasis on Sports Marketing.
• Riverview High School graduate Alex Menese, 19, is a 9-year Club member at the Lee Wetherington Boys & Girls Club. He plans to study Criminology at State College of Florida.
“I get such joy presenting these scholarships to Boys & Girls Club members each year,” said Vitale. “I truly believe that the children served at the Boys & Girls Club can grow up to be productive, caring and responsible citizens if we continue to recognize and reward academic excellence.”
While the Vitale family supports Club members through college scholarship, they also give their time and energy through motivational speaking engagements and thousands of dollars for holiday gifts every December.
“We are able to make such an incredible impact on the children we serve because of our wonderful friends and contributors like the Vitale family,” said Sadlo. For more information about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County, visit www.bgcsarasota.com or call 941-366-3911.