Ten years ago, 22-year-old Garden City High School alumnus Michael Scillitani was in a fatal car accident in Florida, where he was working and attending school. The popular Scillitani left behind a supportive family and tightly knit group of friends who vowed to honor his memory through an annual music scholarship that would be awarded to a deserving high school student at his alma mater. Over the years, a series of fundraisers were held ranging from bowling nights to sponsored participation in the Long Island Marathon, donated amounts varied from year to year depending on what overhead was involved. That is until Scillitani’s sister Donna Marie Emanuele found out about GoFundMe and convinced her mom, also named Donna, to set up an account this year. The transition has been successful enough that Scillitani’s mother is sure that her group will be able to award a pair of $2000 scholarships this year.
“[My daughter]’s initiation into GoFundMe amazed us how in two days we saw people just going on and donating,” Donna explained. “The anniversary is April 29, which is next week, so we’re going to wait until after the anniversary to get closer to our goal. So far, we’re fortunate that people are still interested in remaining close and wanting to help.”
The practice of funding a project, cause or event by raising money from donors on the Internet is called crowdfunding. GoFundMe was launched online nearly five years ago and has become one of the top crowdfunding or fundraising sites for personal causes and life-events. Hundreds of thousands of people have raised more than $900 million collectively from more than 10 million donors through the GoFundMe website. (To read a full story on GoFundMe, click here.)
The scholarship, dubbed “Life of Scill,” has raised nearly $20,000 as the tenth anniversary of his April 29 approaches. And while he was not a musician, his mother explained that her late son’s passionate love and appreciation for music was why she and his friends decided to go with a music scholarship. GoFundMe has streamlined the process for Team Scillitani, a fact that his mother appreciates and marvels at.
“[GoFundMe] has worked out really well. I never heard of it because Donna Marie kept saying we should set up PayPal. But PayPal to who or where? The high school doesn’t do PayPal. I didn’t want to start up a PayPal to me. I wanted it to go directly to the school, so now this goes into the Go Fund Me account, “Emanuele said. “Every year, it gets more and more difficult and some of the kids running in the [Long Island Marathon] didn’t realize that the reason you’re running is to get yourself sponsored and they were just there for support and would never get themselves sponsored. So that’s why Go Fund Me was such a good way to go. It’s an excellent venue.”
As of press time, Life of Scill has raised $2426 of the $4000 needed for the scholarships.
To find out more about the Life of Scill scholarship, visit http://www.gofundme.com/scillfundraiser.