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Thrive In Joy Nick Fagnano Foundation Hosts Virtual Annual Event

Clouds break near the end of the 6th Anniversary Celebration of Life event, sponsored by the Thrive in Joy Nick Fagnano Foundation on July 27, 2020 at Venice Beach, where Fagnano’s close family formed a socially-distanced heart.

Commemorating six years since the passing of Nick Fagnano, his parents Mary and Jay Fagnano and close friends honored his memory at Venice Beach earlier this week in a socially distanced and COVID-19 appropriate gathering. Fagnano was tragically killed when he was struck by a freak lightning storm that hit Venice Beach on July 27, 2014.

Initially, the Fagnanos were reluctant to hold their annual event, but after close friends and family contacted them offering to wear masks and stay socially distant outdoors, they decided to go ahead, Mary Fagnano told the Buzz.

“With limitations on large gatherings, this year’s Thrive in Joy Nick Fagnano Foundation Celebration of Life will be a much smaller group on the beach but we hope to have a very large gathering with all of you who can join us virtually. The program starts at 6:00 pm on facebook live. We’ll be streaming video and also bringing you right to the beach with us through our live feed. Today is Nick’s 6th heavenly birthday and we’re so grateful to all who have been with us from the beginning and to all who have come to know Nick through their participation in the incredible Thrive in Joy community that continues to grow and have such a positive impact,” read the invitation posted on Facebook.

Thrive in Joy was founded by Mary and Jay Fagnano to honor their son’s incredible spirit of generosity and love of community. The foundation has continued the work started by the Fagnanos’ son when he was just a middle schooler in Wilshire Baseball and wanted to share his love of baseball with children in the Dominican Republic by donating baseball equipment to needy communities. The Fagnanos have since made 12 trips to the Dominican Republic. Their work has grown to include supporting schools and developing partnership with Vision Trust Dominicana.

In 2008 Nick recruited his Little League teammates (L-R): Sean Faust, Charley Rock, Jonah Gould, (Nick), Joe Wagner, and Chunny Cohen to help collect equipment to send to kids in the Dominican Republic. (photo from Mary Fagnano)

Recently, the foundation has begun a new program called C11, a new character education program inspired by 11 of Nick’s character traits —humility, honesty, humor, perseverance, perspective, spirituality, teamwork, zest, love, kindness, and gratitude. In late 2019, the Foundation launched the C11 initiative with 160 students participating in the LA chapter of NY-based, Multiplying Good Students in Action program. Through video and interactive workshops, students learn to identify their character strengths and reflect on people who have had a ripple effect on their lives. This program requires a four-month commitment from students during which, each school’s team develops, executes, and measures the impact of a service project in their community. Videos of current participants in the program were featured as part of the Celebration of Life program which can be found on the foundation’s Facebook page.

Currently, the Fagnanos are collaborating with the USC Caruso Catholic Center, which offers and alternative spring break programs, for the C11 Strength of Character program.

“We are currently developing a digital version so we can deliver it to teenagers 13-17 years old,” explained Mary Fagnano. “We are fundraising and looking for college students or recent grads who would like to be mentors to help younger people navigate college, etc. In addition, we are looking for Junior High School and Senior High School partners or youth organizations that are service focused and we are focusing on students in low income schools and also some foster youth programs.”

For more information on inspiration work of the Thrive In Joy Nick Fagnano Foundation, visit their website.

Mary and Jay Fagnano surrounded by friends and family as they celebrate their son’s 6th heavenly birthday at Venice Beach on July 27, 2020.
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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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