2 Stamford High students who ‘give back’ awarded scholarships in honor of city’s first COVID death


STAMFORD – The Tony Spadaccini Memorial Fund has awarded its second round of scholarships to college students in honor of its namesake – a former city official and longtime youth sports advocate who died of COVID-19 in March 2020 .

This year’s awards went to Stamford High seniors Jeremy Young and Nina Tongtong, who will share the foundation’s $7,500 endowment.

The scholarship has focused on students at Stamford High for the past two years, said scholarship founder James Lyman, but “next year we will expand.” Lyman worked alongside Spadaccini for a decade at a media distribution company.

The scholarship fund plans to open its scholarship to students from all local schools, including the private King’s School, where Spadaccinis’ sons attended, he said.

Former City Rep. Tony Spadaccini died of COVID in 2020. A scholarship fund run by his business partner and family wants to keep his love for “giving back” alive.

/ Contributed by Jim Lyman

Spadaccini was one of the first residents of the city to die from COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic.

Selecting the recipients was an experiment to honor “people who embodied the spirit of Tony,” according to Lyman. Like many scholarships for high school students, the Spadaccini Fund seeks to recognize well-rounded students with a bent for community service.

But the process itself — coming together, reminiscing, marking the passage of time — has helped Lyman and the Spadaccini family in the two years since the death.

“It solidified the bond we have,” Lyman said, eventually creating regular opportunities to come together and commemorate Spadaccini.

“We’re entering the third year of all of this,” Anthony Spadaccini’s wife, Stefanie Spadaccini, said, referring to both his loss and the pandemic as a whole. With every scholarship they give, Lyman and Spadaccini — and his two sons, Anthony and Paul — manage to process their grief together instead of leaning into “denial about” his death, she said.

Stefanie Spadaccini and her late husband Tony Spadaccini — a former City Representative who died of COVID in March 2020 — pose over Labor Day weekend in 2019.

Stefanie Spadaccini and her late husband Tony Spadaccini — a former City Representative who died of COVID in March 2020 — pose over Labor Day weekend in 2019.

/ Contributed by Stefanie Spadaccini

It’s about embodying “the value of giving back,” explained Lyman and Stefanie Spadaccini. They said Tony Spadaccini did his best to support Stamford. Even in death, the foundation wants to make sure Spadaccini can accomplish this.

The family’s efforts to honor those who work for the betterment of their community extend beyond scholarships.

The Stamford American Little League, in part, is named after Spadaccini because the foundation sponsors a team.

And through VSL Fighting — a fighting gear company that Lyman and Spadaccini have partnered on in recent years and which funds the bulk of the foundation — the Spaddaccini Memorial Fund will donate $5,000 to the fighter. mixed martial arts Bryce Mitchell.

In turn, Mitchell will donate the $5,000 to a children’s hospital in his native Arkansas.

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