Vin LaFazia is used to wearing a lot of hats. The retired Johnston Recreation director is a Vietnam veteran, an active member in Operation Stand Down RI and is chairman of the Campfires for Cancer Golf Tournament. He’s also a charter member of the non-profit organization that has, in five short years, raised nearly $60,000 for the Cancer Unit at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
But Campfires for Cancer isn’t the only charity LaFazia is involved in. A member of the Richard “Ricky” Salzillo Memorial Game Dinner committee, LaFazia’s two worlds combined this week, as he accepted a $1,500 donation from the foundation created in the late Salzillo’s memory.
“It’s important for a number of reasons, most notably because our mission is to fight cancer, and Ricky never got to live a full life,” LaFazia said.
It wasn’t cancer that cut Salzillo’s life short; the former Johnston resident was killed in an automobile accident back on Feb. 10, 1976, when he was just 25 years old. The foundation created in his name, however, supports community organizations and seeks to keep his memory alive. The Richard D. Salzillo Memorial Scholarship Fund presents college scholarships to Johnston High School graduates, and additional funds raised are directed to local agencies like Operation Stand Down and Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
Already invested in such causes, LaFazia joined the Salzillo Memorial Game Dinner Committee. He said, “staying active in lots of community events keeps me young,”
“Vinny works hard for the Salzillo Dinner just like he does for our Campfires group,” said Campfires for Cancer Chairman Dennis Quaranta. “We accept this donation with deep and sincere gratitude. It’s important to support the Game Dinner and Salzillo Scholarship Fund. This wonderful donation will go right into our charity fund and will also be part of the donation we give to Hasbro.”
John Graham, a member of the Campfires for Cancer Committee who also volunteers for Salzillo Scholarship Fund events, joined LaFazia in making the check presentation to Quaranta.
Those funds will go toward this year’s overall donation, which grows with each Campfires for Cancer event.
This year’s Campfires for Cancer Memorial Golf Tournament will again be played at the Connecticut National Golf Club in Putnam, Conn. The May 18 tournament is played in memory of the late Sal Gelsomino, Anna Mazzulla and Laura DeAngelis, all of whom lost their battles to various forms of cancer.
“We were all friends,” Quaranta said.
The 18-hole tournament will benefit the Hematology/Oncology Department of the Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence. Participants can compete to win a car, and will be given a souvenir bag, $10 worth of raffle tickets, lunch and food on the course, as well as a gala awards dinner at a cost of $110 per golfer.
“We’ll have our usual hole-in-one prizes,” LaFazia said. “There will also be individual awards and we will again have a men’s, women’s and co-ed division this year. May 1 is the deadline for entry and we’re hoping to sell out the field as early as possible.”
Campfires for Cancer committee members are also hoping to sell a record number of memorial signs that will be placed strategically around the golf course.
“We’ll be selling tee signs in memory of loved ones we’ve lost,” LaFazia said. “They have become quite popular in year’s past, and they only cost $25.”
Tee sponsor signs are also available for $50 while other sponsorships are: Gold, $500; Silver, $250; and Bronze, $100. For more information, contact Linda LaFazia at 233-2564 or Judi Graham at 497-2964.