Sperrazza, Rakowitz, Hart are Lione Award winners
Updated 10:49 pm, Tuesday, July 16, 2013
The thing that people remember most was his spirit of generosity.
An abundance of community spirit along with solid athletics and academic excellence are the hallmarks of the trio of female winners of the 2013 Mickey Lione Jr. Scholarship Awards.
"It's a wonderful honor," Sperrazza said. "Being at Trinity Catholic I knew that Mickey Lione Jr. was such an amazing man. I would hope that people could see some of the same qualities in me that they saw in him."
Due to Trinity's smaller enrollment compared to most FCIAC schools, Sperrazza has been on the Crusaders' boys golf team for the past two seasons.
Sperrazza's best sport is swimming but Trinity doesn't have a girls or boys swim team. She has been affiliated with the Stamford Sharks Swim Team since 2008.
Sperrazza's community service knows no limitations. She has worked yearly with the Special Olympics.
"My cousin Paul is autistic. He responds well to me. And working at Special Olympics is the next natural step and something I enjoy," Sperrazza said. "Those kids are open and charismatic and good people with great qualities. They've taught me to be humble."
She is also a Bible Camp counselor at St. Cecilia's Church.
"My faith is a big part of my life. The power of prayer is always there for me," said Sperrazza, who is an altar server at St. Leo's Parish. "As a counselor, I teach kids that God and prayer are always there. The job is to teach and explain. We do skits on bible quotations. The message to them is God loves you no matter what you do."
Sperrazza has played piano for nine years and flute for five years.
"The work is rewarding in both athletics and being a musician," Sperrazza said. "The only way to be good is either discipline is practice, practice, practice. There is a grace and a humbleness to both music and athletics."
As part of the process, all honorees had to write an essay on someone in their life they considered a hero.
"I wrote about my aunt, Dr. Wendy Biagiotti. She is a family doctor, general practitioner. She is Head of Albert Einstein College of Medicine. A professor of clinical medicine. She practices at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y." Sperrazza said. "She was the first person and first women in her family to go to college. She displays such courage, selflessness and heart. I don't know exactly what I want to do with my life. But I'd like to be just half the person my aunt is."
Stamford High's Rakowitz has been a field hockey goalie for two seasons.
"I went to the field hockey tryout and the coach said `We need a goalie.' Nobody raised their hand so I said `I'll try it.' I didn't really have a clue but the coach wouldn't let me out of it," Rakowitz recalled. "The first game was against (FCIAC power) New Canaan and they scored seven goals. The next game I allowed three goals and felt I made progress. Then Darien scored nine goals. Fortunately, the team was so supportive . I improved bit by bit. It was a challenge but I love being a goalie now."
Rakowitz also walked-on and succeeded with the Stamford High Drama Club.
Her community service has revolved around Stamford High Gives Back, volunteering at the Fairfield Jewish Home for the Elderly the past eight years.
"SHS Gives Back has done fundraisers and made donations to students who have had house fires to help get them back on their feet," Rakowitz said. "Other projects include money for college, buying prom tickets and/or corsages for people. And buying bus tokens for kids who want to stay late for help with school but had no way to get home.
"Actually I started visiting Fairfield Jewish Home in third grade. I'd go with my grandparents who volunteered," Rakowitz continued. "Then I got into pet therapy. A lady would bring a poodle to interact with residents. I talk to some residents who are near age 100. I'm 16 and used to feel old. They have such experience and appreciate the little things. I have a better perspective after interacting with them."
Rakowitz wrote her essay about 8-year-old Ellie, a Special Needs child with Rett Syndrome she works with at Friendship Circle.
"Rett Syndrome is a form of autism with physical handicaps. But Ellie can walk and swim but can't talk," Rakowitz said. "She's my hero because despite so many limitations she's not in a shell. She has the biggest personality. She makes people happy. I've been with her two years and Ellie is such an inspiration."
Westhill's Hart is a softball and field hockey player.
She coaches 6 and 7-year-olds in the Stamford Youth Basketball League and works with BuildOn at Westhill tutoring kids at Roxbury Elementary.
"Coaching kids is fun. It's a love of mine," Hart said. "I see how my work affects them on and off the court. I want to see kids progress on a successful path."