The â€œFriends of Johnston High Schoolâ€™s football Panthersâ€ recorded a smashing success story last Thursday night in Smithfield.
With former Johnston resident Dave DiDonato providing the playing field for the unique â€œFriday Night Lightsâ€ fundraiser, Panther Pride reached a new record inside The Last Resort, a multi-use restaurant, bar and recreation center located on Farnum Pike.
â€œIn football jargon, this would have been a resounding victory,â€ Ted Nelson, one of three fathers of the 2016 Panthers pack that coordinated the fun, food and football fellowship fundraiser. â€œLast yearâ€™s initial event took in around $1,000; tonight we turned a $3,000 profit.â€
The night also featured a formative, pep talk-like address from William â€œBilly Vâ€ Vigeant, a Johnston resident and former standout at La Salle Academy during his younger years that is recognized as one Rhode Islandâ€™s most successful sports promoters.
â€œTonight is a great night for you Panthers and your parents,â€ said Vigeant. â€œYouâ€™ve got lots and lots of support; donâ€™t ever forget where you came from and always respect your parents and fellow man. Iâ€™m very impressed with what the volunteer committee has done; I hope you continue what is obviously the start of a terrific tradition.â€
Like everyone that enjoyed a variety of foods including a cheese and cracker tray along with salad, macaroni and meatballs that was served courtesy of DiDonato, Vigeant was complimentary about the pre-and-post game meal.
â€œHereâ€™s as victory cigar!â€ said Nelson, as he unwrapped a box of premium cigars and handed one to Vigeant. â€œEnjoy this cigar and we hope everyone enjoyed the special wine tasting and thank you to everyone who participated in our great raffle.â€
The event was coordinated by Nelson, Tony Cimaglia and Al Pennacchia and featured an audience that included such former Panther greats as Dom Iafrate, a JHS standout back in the 1960s along with many parents.
â€œWe also want to thank our many sponsors and the business community for supporting our raffle,â€ Nelson went on. â€œWeâ€™re happy that our wine tasting enticed many of the playersâ€™ moms to turn out a special thank you to Damon Laurito, who owns Lauritoâ€™s Wine & Spirits, whose donation was vital to the success of tonightâ€™s fundraiser.â€
Nelson also thanked people like Aris Vasquez, Rafael Bonilla, Arlene Nelson, Peggy Passarelli, Taylor Nelson and Lauren Laflamme along with businesses The Last Resort, Slit Ends, Wins on 5, Market Fine Wines, Luigiâ€™s, Dâ€™Lashes, CardsMart, Damonâ€™s Wine & Spirits, Town Hall Lanes, Atomic Salon, Northern Lobster, Sundaeâ€™s, LosAndes, Rawlings Floor Covering, Primal Fitness, Tony and Guy, Ultimate Body Boutique, Mewâ€™s Tavern, Pancho Oâ€™Malleyâ€™s, Nancy Fiffe, Taylor Nelson and Peggy Passarelli who also donated baskets of wine.
Nelson also wanted it known that the generosity of Johnston Fire Fighters, Northeast Auto Body and Family Auto Sales also played a huge role in the nightâ€™s success.