The Chicagoland Italian American Charitable Organization one-upped itself at this year’s Honor & Hope Gala, bestowing 20 scholarships at $2,500 each, plus an additional $35,000 in grants to two military veterans and three families with medical hardships, for a grand total of $85,000.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who was made an honorary CIACO member at the event, introduced Dominic Saverino Humanitarian of the Year Award recipient Joe Calafiore.
Bridget Fretz received a CIACO grant to assist with the care of her son, Austin, a veteran who was critically injured in a car accident after completion of his military service. Retired Staff Sergeant Timothy Kathol received a CIACO grant to support the work he does on behalf of disabled veterans.
Married with two children, Matt Toole received a grant to assist him in his battle with ALS. Beth Arpon received a CIACO grant to assist her in her battle with a rare form of cancer. And Brigette Zagotta received a CIACO grant to help support her family as she deals with the recent passing of her husband and the care of a daughter with autism.
The following students received scholarships at the gala: Adriana Casali (Trinity High School), Marianna Rose Colucci (Lake Park High School), Michelle Diatte (Elmhurst College), Madeline Frieze (Lyons Township High School), Caroline Gaglio (The Willows Academy), Tyler Hill (Waubonsee Community College), Keegan Homes (Glenbard West High School), Jennifer Jaros (Main South High School), Brett Kupiweski (Lake Park High School), Rachel Laren (West Leyden High School), Cristina Lucia Loizzo (IC Catholic Prep High School), Francesca Marchetti (Burlington Central High School), Jessica Marchetti (Burlington Central High School), Michael McMullin (Cary Grove High School), Alexander Mennella (East Leyden High School), Matthew Novak (Elk Grove High School), John Piemonte (Plainfield North High School), Gabriella Rodriguez (Willowbrook High School), Nicole Szilagyi (York Community High School), and Cassandra A. Thomas (College of DuPage).
Over the last 29 years, CIACO has awarded nearly $600,000 in scholarships and grants. (www.ciaco.com)