Since the death of his son Giovanni, Ron Vitrano has been desperately working as much as he can.
A traveling associate producer for ESPN, he has a job that can easily fill his time. But eventually he has to return to his Tallahassee home filled with the belongings and photos of his 20-year-old son.
Giovanni died in November after falling from the seventh-story window of a CollegeTown apartment. For Ron, each day since then has been more punishing than the last.
“It gets tougher because the reality sets in more and more,” Ron said Wednesday. “I’ve been trying to stay out of the house.”
When he is home, however, his attention has been centered on one project that has kept him centered: The Giovanni Vitrano Foundation.
It’s a nonprofit created by Ron and his best friend in the memory of Giovanni, a 2019 Leon High School grad who attended Tallahassee Community College.
Ron recently announced The Giovanni Vitrano Memorial Scholarship that will be awarded to three soccer athletes “who demonstrate the perseverance and dedication it takes to be truly great, not just as a player but as a person” — qualities possessed by the young man this scholarship is named after, family and friends said.
The winner will get $5,000 and the second and third place finalists will receive $1,000 each to go towards education.
“Giovanni loved soccer, so we wanted to do something we knew he’d like,” Ron said.
The scholarship — which is open to those graduating in the class of 2022 — encompasses much of the Big Bend area, including Leon, Gadsden, Wakulla, Jefferson, Jackson, Taylor, Lafayette, Suwannee and Hamilton counties. It also stretches into Georgia.
The deadline to apply is May 1; the winners will be announced May 29.
‘I couldn’t have asked for a better city’
In the days following Giovanni’s death, Ron and his family were inundated with gestures of love and support, which Ron says has not let up more than three months later.
“I always told everybody I was going to be (in Tallahassee) for a year. And 21 years later, I’m still stuck in Tallahassee.
“I can’t say that anymore,” he added. “It’s been the most wonderful place to be during all this.”
Ron recalled nurturing phone calls and texts from strangers and the reoccurring site of freshly made food left on his doorstep.
“I’m the guy that wants to take care of everything myself, and it was hard at first to just let go,” he said. “But I did, and I’m so overwhelmed by the love that everybody has shown and still does.”
It was the community support that made this foundation and scholarship possible, Ron said.
The money funding the scholarship is from a GoFundMe campaign put together by Ron’s best friend, Mike Fahmie, that gained over $29,000 between November and February.
Ron intends to increase the amount of money bestowed onto the winners each year, but wanted a modest start: “There are a lot of exciting things coming soon,” he said.
Apply for the scholarship
Contact Christopher Cann at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @ChrisCannFL on Twitter.
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