Eighteen student scholar-athletes representing nine area high schools will be honored at the 54th annual Thomas E. Hewitt Sports Awards Dinner at 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 5, at Antonio’s Banquet Center at 7708 Niagara Falls Blvd. in Niagara Falls. The dinner, sponsored by the board of associates of Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, will begin with a reception at 5 p.m.
The guest speaker will be Ron Raccuia, president of ADPRO Sports. Board of associates President Louis Paonessa, manager of community relations for the New York Power Authority, is chairman of the event. Tickets are available at 298-2146.
The dinner, named for the late city editor of the Niagara Gazette, will include the presentation of $2,500 scholarships to the top male and female candidates as determined by a panel of judges. In addition, each student will receive a $200 award for their nomination. The panel of judges are:
•Edward Farnam, a past Hewitt Award recipient and owner of Tuscarora Roofing.
•Julie Berrigan, executive director of the Mount St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation.
•Anthony Eugeni, a former Hewitt nominee and an attorney, partner, Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP.
Judging is based on scholastic achievement, athletic achievement, school and community involvement, and a personal interview with the judges.
The eight female nominees and their high schools include:
Lexie Diaz of Grand Island, Riley Crum of Lewiston-Porter, Hannah Anderson of Lockport, Re’naijah Purvis of Niagara Falls, Le’Gary Jackson of Niagara-Wheatfield, Laney Winclaw of North Tonawanda, Elizabeth Bradley of Starpoint, and Sarah Lewis of Wilson.
The eight male nominees and their high schools include:
Dylan Russo of Grand Island, Andrew Perreault of Lewiston-Porter, Sean Denniston of Lockport, Joseph White of Niagara Falls, Christopher Cacciatore of Niagara-Wheatfield, Colin Beach of North Tonawanda, Aaron Chase of Starpoint, and Steven Frerichs of Wilson.
Bios of locals
Le’Gary Jackson of Niagara-Wheatfield High School is the daughter of Cassandra and Gary Jackson. LeGary has earned a 92.39-weighted average. She has earned high honor roll honors, Highest Academic Team Award for track and field, a Falcon Pride Award and Scholar Athlete Award. In her school and community, she is a member of the FAAST Student/Athlete Advisory Club, volunteer with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, St. Mark Open Door Baptist Church and with the “For Our Daughters” organization.
Athletically, she was captain of the varsity track and field team (four years); competed in three consecutive New York state championships and is the school record holder for the 400-meter, 4 by 400, and high jump. She was also captain of the varsity basketball team (two years) and member of the New York state finalist varsity volleyball team. Jackson plans to attend the University of Detroit and participate on the track and field team. She intends to major in early childhood education with a possible minor in fine arts.
Laney Wieclaw of North Tonawanda High School is the daughter of Linda and Chris Wieclaw. Wieclaw has earned a 101.307-weighted average. She is the class valedictorian, treasurer of the National Honor Society, earned high honors every marking period, a Student of the Month recipient (five times), earned a Quality Student Award and was named a Youth of the Month and received the Hugh O’Bryan Youth Leadership Award. In her school and community, she was president of her class (grades 9-11), vice president of the Music Honor Society, member of the Wind Symphony, Pep Bad and Pit Band, member of Leadership Youth Niagara County, and earned a New York State Senate Youth Leadership Award.
In athletics, she was named an All-WNY Scholar Athlete (Fall 2018), member of the varsity spring track team, named indoor track girls MVP and holds the school record for weight throw. She was also captain of the varsity softball team and was named the NT Female Prep Athlete of the Year. Wieclaw plans to attend SUNY University at Buffalo for an undecided engineering major.
Elizabeth Bradley of Starpoint High School is the daughter of Michelle and Brian Bradley. Elizabeth has earned a 99.21-weighted average. She is president of the National Honor Society and member of the Science Honor Society and Math Honor Society, earned high honors in all semesters, is ranked No. 6 in her class and earned a Starpoint Scholar Award (four years). In her school and community, she is an officer of the Senior Class, member of the Donate Life Club, a volunteer with Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and a Starpoint mathematics tutor.
In athletics, she is captain of the varsity soccer team, captain of the varsity basketball team and captain of the varsity softball team where she earned ECIC II All-League recognition in all three sports. Elizabeth plans to attend D’Youville College in the PharmD program. Her goal is to become a pharmacist.
Christopher Cacciatore of Niagara-Wheatfield High School is the son of Melissa and Frank Cacciatore. He has earned a 91.79-weighted average. Cacciatore is a member of the National Honor Society, earned academic honor roll awards during his entire secondary education, including high honors the last three years, was named a Section VI All-WNY Scholar Athlete and earned a Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award. In his school and community, he is a member of the Outdoor Club and DECA, mentor coach for the Buffalo Thunder and the SABAH hockey program, volunteer with Challenger Baseball and with the Niagara Falls Firefighters Christmas Telethon.
In athletics, he was captain of the varsity golf team, the varsity hockey team where he was nominated twice as a Buffalo News Athlete of the Week, named to the Section VI All-Star Team and to the Bowman Cup; and captain of the varsity baseball team, where he earned First Team All-NFL honors. Cacciatore plans to attend the University of Tampa and major in international business. His goal is to become a management analyst or international trader.
Colin Beach of North Tonawanda High School is the son of Janet and Robert Beach. Colin has earned a 98.42-weighted average. He is a member of the National Honor Society, ranked No. 9 in his class, earned high honor roll recognition all four years. Additionally, he was named a WNY Academic Player of the Week, the WNY All Academic Football Team and honorable mention as a WNY Scholar Athlete. In his school and community, he is a member of the Outdoor Awareness Club and volunteers at St. Christopher’s Parish and the North Tonawanda Food Pantry.
In athletics, Beach was captain of the varsity football team where he was All-NFL Honorable Mention twice and captain of the varsity basketball team. He plans to attend SUNY Buffalo for pharmaceutical sciences with a goal of becoming a pharmacist.
Aaron Chase of Starpoint High School is the son of Stephanie and Bob Chase. Chase has earned a 98.45-weighted average. He has earned high honors every semester, was named an All-WNY Scholar Athlete, earned a Starpoint Superintendent’s Award and was named a Student of the Month. In his school and community, he is a member of Students Against Destructive Decisions, volunteers with Assistance to Student with Special Needs and volunteers with the cancer fundraiser.
In athletics, he was captain of the varsity football team, the varsity basketball team and member of the varsity baseball team. Chase plans to attend SUNY Buffalo and major in business economics, while participating on the Division I football team.