An 11-year-old fundraising wunderkind has been recognized for his philanthropic talents in a big way.
Santino Carnevale, of West Jefferson, was the recipient of a Jefferson Award on April 3.
The Jefferson Awards were created by Ohio Senator Bob Taft and Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy in 1972 as a way of nationally recognizing people who do extraordinary things in their communities without expecting benefits for themselves.
Within three years, and through a variety of community-held events, Carnevale has managed to raise over $41,000 to be donated to organizations dedicated to cancer treatment, research, awareness, and support.
Carnevale has known about cancer all of his life. His father, Michael, was diagnosed with Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma, an extremely rare form of the disease, prior to Santino’s birth.
At a very young age, he witnessed his grandfather succumb to pancreatic cancer, prompting his foray into charitable giving by hosting a fundraiser for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, the leading national charity dealing with childhood cancer.
This was just the first in a series of successful fundraising events — several in association with the West Jefferson Ox Roast.
In 2016, Michael Carnevale lost his long battle with the disease. Santino’s efforts to raise money to combat cancer were strengthened, and he has shown no signs of slowing down since.
Carnevale was nominated for the Jefferson Awards by Columbus firefighter and cancer awareness advocate, Mark Rine. Rine, a married father of five, is currently going through his own journey with cancer — he was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma nearly 6 years ago. Rine was instrumental to the passing of Senate Bill 27, which states that cancer is a very real work-related hazard of firefighting.
“On behalf of all Columbus Professional Firefighters,” read Rine’s nomination of Carnevale, “I’d like to introduce you to an eleven-year-old young man by the name of Santino Carnevale. As with many inspirational tales of selflessness, Santino’s relatively short but uplifting story encompasses the lowest of lows, the highest of highs, and is an illustration of the human spirit’s capacity to perform noble acts in the wake of personal tragedy.”
Nineteen finalists were selected from a pool of 149 entries, according to Santino’s mother, Brooke Carnavale. Of those 19 five were selected to receive a Jefferson Award for central Ohio.
The award ceremony was held at the Lincoln Theatre in downtown Columbus and was presented by 10TV, Schoedinger Funeral & Cremation Service, and Lifeline of Ohio.
Of the approximately 150 attendees, Santino was the only child present, his mother believes. This was also the first black tie event that she recalls him ever attending. “With his father passing, we didn’t know how to tie a tie, so we had to Youtube it,” she laughed.
Besides a little minor fidgeting with his jacket, Santino handled himself well on stage. “He acted incredibly mature and I am very proud of him,” his mother beamed.
When asked what receiving the Jefferson Award meant to him Santino said, “I know it’s something really important, especially for someone my age. But, I’m just happy that it’s raising awareness for cancer research…plus, I have $500 to kick off my fundraising for the year.”
Santino received a $500 check for the Jefferson Award. He never once asked how to spend this money on himself.
Prior to the event proper, Carnevale was interviewed by a small video team for 10TV.
The Jefferson Award ceremony is scheduled to air on that station on April 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Santino has another one of his stellar fundraisers planned for that same day. You can catch him at the West Jefferson Community Center from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. as part of the Spring Home Expo.
Reach Andrew Garrett at 740-852-1616, ext. 1616.
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU