More than 300 Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County members experienced the magic of the holiday season at the organization’s annual Holiday Party on December 21 thanks to generous community supporters including ESPN Television sports analyst, author and philanthropist Dick Vitale and his wife Lorraine who gave $10,000 to help purchase toys and gifts.
“This is our favorite day of the year,” said Vitale. “This tradition with the Boys & Girls Clubs brings Lorraine and I so much joy. We’re like two kids when we throw the holiday party for these Club members!”
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 apply themselves in school, treat others with respect and help those in need.
“Be good to people, and people will be good to you,” said Vitale.
Each child was served a warm, turkey dinner thanks to Boar’s Head and participated in festive activity booths from face painting to Reindeer Ring Toss. They also visited with Santa and selected two special presents from the Gift Room.
“The Vitales have brought smiles to our Clubs members’ faces for two decades,” said Bill Sadlo, President/CEO at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County. “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.”
While the Vitale family has given thousands of dollars for holiday gifts every December, they have also given a total of $100,000 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.
“Dick and Lorraine instill a sense of hope and opportunity within the children we serve every time they visit our Clubs,” said Sadlo.