The Mahoning Valley Restaurant (MVR) hosted the Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley Monday night for their annual Carmstrong Bocce for Hope game.
The special bocce tournament is held to raise money and awareness for chronically and terminally ill children of the Mahoning Valley, with donations coming primarily from player fees and team sponsorships. There were also ‘celebrity bartenders’ who donated their time to make drinks for the participants. All of the proceeds go directly to the ill children through local charities dealing with the children’s happiness, comfort and well being.
Anthony Spano, a Youngstown State University employee, is the founder and executive director of the HFMV. He stated that he discovered his passion for helping others when he was in college, and the passion to give back never diminished.
“When I was in college, I raised money for terminally ill kids going to camp, and that’s where it started. I began the Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley to help those kids here in the area, and it exploded from there”, Spano said. “When it first started, it wasn’t this big. With the help of the many volunteers who donate their time and the many others who donate their money, the foundation has grown. We’ve seen and we’ve heard the effects of our foundation. It does feel good, deep down inside, but it drives you to do more because there are a lot of less fortunate kids out there that we want to help that have a terminally ill issue.”
Jim Cossler, one of the celebrity bartenders for the Bocce for Hope game, is the CEO and Chief Evangelist of the Youngstown Business Incubator. He said that he is ecstatic to be involved with a charity that can assist with such a difficult issue in the lives of many.
“It’s one of those organizations in the community that’s doing such good work, especially with the young children that have devastating diseases. Your heart just goes out to that, you want to make their lives as good as you can,” Cossler said. “In just my experience, these organizations are as helpful to the parent as they are to the child because their child is their everything. If an organization like this can make a child’s life a little bit better, it just makes the parents a whole lot happier.”
The HFMV holds other events that raise money for the terminally ill children including Wine for Hope, the Game of Hope Classic and the Hope Classic Showcase. Each event offers a different way to rally support for the foundation.
Spano said that although the HFMV has grown, he never wants to stop his ambitions for what it could become.
“[The foundation] could be for chronically and terminally ill kids, it could be for cancer research, it could be for education,” Spano said. “It just has to be something that your heart goes towards. That’s the drive of all non-profits … just people helping other people because they feel the need to, and I feel the need to.”