On December 15th, ESPN Television sports analyst, author and philanthropist Dick Vitale and his wife Lorraine helped spread holiday cheer to 340 deserving youth who attended the annual Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties Holiday Party. The event was made possible thanks to generous supporters including the Vitales who gave $10,000 to help purchase toys.
“This is a very special day for these beautiful kids,” said Vitale. “And it is special to me to play Santa Claus.”
Before the holiday festivities began, Club members gathered in the Dick Vitale Health and Fitness Center at the Lee Wetherington Boys & Girls Club where Mr. Vitale encouraged them to follow their dreams like he did so they can give back to their community one day.
“Be good to people, and people will be good to you,” said Vitale.
Each child was served a warm, turkey dinner and participated in festive activity booths from face painting to Reindeer Ring Toss. They also visited with Santa and selected two presents from the Gift Room.
“The Vitales have been incredible supporters of the Boys & Girls Club mission for almost two decades,” said Bill Sadlo, President/CEO at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties. “In fact, they used to host a holiday party for a dozen of our Club members each year at their home to enjoy a home-cooked meal and gifts. Since then, our Clubs’ Holiday Party has grown to include hundreds of kids, and the Vitales make sure that every child has a memorable night.”
While the Vitale family has given thousands of dollars for holiday gifts every December, they have also given a total of $90,000 in scholarships to help college-bound Club members pursue degrees in higher education. In addition to personal contributions, the family has helped raise more than $1 million for the organization’s high-quality programs designed to enhance children’s academic success, character and leadership development and healthy lifestyles.
“The years of loyalty and support from the Vitales helps us give youth across Sarasota County unique opportunities that they otherwise might not have the chance to experience,” said Sadlo. “Mr. Vitale instills a sense of hope and opportunity within the children we serve every time he visits our Clubs.”