Dick Vitale awards college scholarships to five Boys & Girls Club members, celebrates 20 years of support

Dick and Lorraine Vitale (center) with Teen Specialist Geoffrey Gilot accepting on behalf of Al-Muta Hawks, as well as, scholarship recipients Fritz Azor, Maurice Cook, Hassan Hogan and Andrea Aray.

ESPN Television sports analyst, author and philanthropist Dick Vitale, and his wife Lorraine recognized the academic success of five outstanding Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County members who will be pursuing degrees in higher education this fall. Each recipient was awarded $1,000 to support their postsecondary education on Monday, August 28, in the Dick Vitale Health and Fitness Center at the Lee Wetherington Boys & Girls Club.

This celebration marked the 20th year that the Vitales have awarded college scholarships to Boys & Girls Club members, bringing the total number of beneficiaries to 100 and amount of scholarship support to $100,000.

“This year’s scholarship award ceremony was a huge milestone for our organization,” said Bill Sadlo, President/CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County. “The Vitales have helped our Club members achieve their full potential over the past two decades by making the dream of going to college a reality.”

The following 2017 Dick Vitale Scholarship recipients were chosen by Club staff for their commitment to their education and outstanding leadership qualities:

  • Suncoast Polytechnical High School graduate Andrea Aray, 19, participated in numerous teen leadership programs at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County including SRQVolunteen and STAR Leadership Training. She plans to study Nursing at Suncoast Technical College.
  • Fritz Azor, 18, graduated from North Port High School and attended the Gene Matthews Boys & Girls Club in North Port for six years. He will pursue a degree in Physical Therapy at State College of Florida.
  • Nineteen-year-old Maurice Cook, is a Sarasota Military Academy graduate who attended the Lee Wetherington Boys & Girls Club for ten years. He plans to study criminal justice at Florida State University then serve in the military after college graduation.
  • Al-Muta Hawks, 18, has been a member of the Lee Wetherington Boys & Girls Club since 2005. He is a graduate of Sarasota Military Academy, and will begin his freshman year at Duquesne University this fall thanks to the Robert and Patricia Gussin Endowed Scholarship.
  • Hassan Hogan, 19, is a North Port High School graduate who attended the Gene Matthews Boys & Girls Club in North Port for six years. He will pursue a degree in Film Development at State College of Florida.

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.

“It is a great honor and privilege for my wife and I to continue to support the great kids at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County in this way,” said Dick Vitale. “We hope our scholarships have enabled many of these tremendous youngsters to follow their dreams as they pursue their education. We are so grateful to be a part of this wonderful organization.”

In addition to personal contributions, the Vitales have helped raise more than $1 million for the organization’s high-quality programs to help children ages 6 to 18 succeed in school, build their character and leadership skills and live healthy lifestyles. The family also gives their time and energy through several motivational speaking engagements throughout the year, as well as, thousands of dollars to provide holiday gifts to Boys & Girls Club members every December.

“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. “We are so grateful for the Vitales’ incredible generosity.”