by Vito Cavallo
The Chicagoland Italian American Charitable Organization held its annual Honor & Hope Gala at the Alta Villa in Addison. More than 300 were in attendance as CIACO, doing what it does best, gave back to the community in a big way
CIACO can state for the record that 100 percent of its year-round fundraising goes to charitable causes. (Membership dues cover all administrative costs.) On this one night alone, we gave out $52,000.
Twenty deserving students received scholarships of $2,000 each. A wounded veteran was given $5,000 to help alleviate his financial hardships. A local organization that helps veterans in many ways was given $2,000 toward its Laptops for Vets program. And last but not least, little Liam, the 6-year-old warrior who has undergone numerous surgeries, was given a check for $5,000 to cover some of his many medical bills.
There was plenty of food, good cheer and CIACO pride on display. While it was a night to remember for all those in attendance and for those who received CIACO’s generosity, for this giving group, it was just another day at the office.
The wife of wounded vet Anthony Simone, Andrea, is expecting her second child. The mother of little Liam, Karen, has another son, a few years older. Both of these women are models, not from the fashion runway (although both are beautiful) but in the unsung heroes category. Yes, certain family members have had to endure either the pains of injury, illness and surgeries, and other members have had to deal with all the complications that come with that, but you could tell that these two women have held everyone together through it all.
Both gave fantastic heartfelt speeches that not only expressed appreciation, but revealed the tremendous inner strength to fight on. We applaud them, and will keep them in our prayers. As strong as they can be when called upon in public, we know there has to be those quiet private moments when maybe for one instant, a little tear may sneak through. That is when our prayers may come in handy.