- December 18, 2015
Dick Vitale always has a smile on his face when he's on the way to the Lee Wetherington branch of the Boys and Girls Club of Sarasota County.
"My wife likes to say 'I think you enjoy it more than the kids," Vitale laughed.
But on Aug. 28, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee and ESPN sportscaster had even more reason to smile. He, along with his wife, Lorraine Vitale, awarded their 100th scholarship to Boys and Girls Club Members.
After awarding five Sarasota club members with $1,000 scholarships, Vitale encouraged all the children in attendance to stay focused on their dreams.
"Chase your dreams," he said. "Chase your goals. Don't let anybody tell you what you ought to be."
The event marked Vitale's 20th year donating scholarships, totaling $100,000 over the two decades. Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County President and CEO Bill Sadlo said Vitale's commitment to club's mission is more than monetary. It's providing insight and inspiring children to aspire for more than their circumstances.
"It's immeasurable, really," Sadlo said.
The award came as a surprise to many recipients like Hassan Hogan.
"It means a lot," Hogan said.
Hogan, 19, 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.
"Being a club kid and them helping even now ... this place has such a place in my heart," Hogan said.
In addition to scholarship donations, Vitale is a longtime supporter of the Boys & Girls Club programs, helping to raise $1 million to build the gymnasium and athletic facility at the Lee Wetherington branch and sponsoring an annual holiday party for club members.
"The boys club has been dear to my heart," Vitale said. "The staff members, they're so dedicated. They don't make big dollars. They just like helping kids."
It's a sentiment that Vitale shares. As children filed into their classrooms and chatter filled the hall, it was easy for Vitale to identify his motivation.
"If you help one kid in that group, it's worth it," Vitale said.