Since its inception 57 years ago, the Calgary Italian Sportsmen’s Dinner Association has donated more than $2 million to various charitable organizations and schools throughout Calgary.
The association has been able to do so thanks to strong support from Calgary’s corporate and professional community, which either sponsors the association’s annual dinner or buys tickets to the tune of 700 to 800 for the event each year.
The event, which takes place tonight at Notre Dame High School, features guest speaker Johnny Bench, a former Major League Baseball star who is considered to be one of the greatest catchers of all time. He played for the Cincinnati Reds during the era when they were known as the Big Red Machine, dominating the National League during the 1970s and winning two World Series.
The event also honours Calgary high school graduating students of Italian descent who have excelled in both athletics and academics, and will be pursuing a post-secondary education. This year, scholarships of $5,000 were awarded to Jonathan Giustini, Anthony Cardone and Colin Petrillo.
“This year marks the 57th anniversary of the Calgary Italian Sportsmen’s Dinner. While the dinner has served to celebrate the exploits of some of the finest athletes and sports raconteurs, we have also been a major contributor to various academic, cultural and sports endeavours in Calgary,” said Domenic Venturo, the dinner’s president.
“First and foremost, we have recognized the achievements of worthy student-athletes of Italian descent through our awards of scholarships. We have also provided financial assistance to countless minor sports organizations and clubs. The Calgary Italian Sportsmen’s Dinner Association has also provided financial assistance to local postgraduate students in the pursuit of their studies. The Calgary Italian Sportsmen’s Dinner Association has established long-standing scholarships at the University of Calgary, Mount Royal University, St. Mary’s University and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. Our association was instrumental in the preservation of the Italian Studies Program at the University of Calgary and we are currently spearheading a community effort to provide further financial assistance to the program. Understandably, we are proud of our work within the Calgary Italian community and the city at large.”
This year’s scholarship winners are:
Jonathan Giustini, Notre Dame High School
In high school, Giustini was part of the city championship football team in his Grade 12 year. He also played soccer and participated in track and field in the four-by-100-metre relay, winning a city championship in Grade 10 and 11 with a provincial bronze in Grade 10 and a provincial gold in Grade 11. He also had extensive experience playing soccer and football at the community level.
Anthony Cardone, St. Francis High School
Cardone’s sports background includes playing at the community level and with St. Francis, where he was team captain and most valuable player last year for the provincial championship football team. He was also a Calgary high school all-star. Cardone spent eight years as well playing community hockey. His volunteer activities included being a Ronald McDonald House volunteer.
Colin Petrillo, Sir Winston Churchill High School
Petrillo is a well-rounded athlete as he’s participated in high school in numerous sports, including basketball, football, rugby, and track and field. He has been the school’s athlete of the year and was the Calgary Booster Club’s Harry Hood Memorial Football Award Winner in 2018. Among his volunteer activities has been his participation in raising awareness and funding support for the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter.
– Mario Toneguzzi for Calgary’s Business