There’s a group of Goodfellas in Johnston that in no way, shape or fashion resemble those often-called bad guys or even anything close to wise guys.
Just ask Michele Branigan, the highly-respected Senior Major Gifts Manager at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, who was on the receiving end of a generous grant and extraordinary donation inside Brewed Awakenings at 1395 Atwood Avenue last Thursday morning.
It seemed as though everyone inside the popular coffee shoppe/eatery was in awe of what was going on with a half-dozen leather-vest clad motorcycle men who took on the unique role of Santa Claus last Thursday morning.
“I speak for all my colleagues at Hasbro Children’s Hospital and the families we serve when I say how truly grateful we are for the gift from the Goodfellas Motorcycle Club,” Branigan said. “All the effort and planning that went into their motorcycle run, and the tremendous outpouring of support the Club received from the community, are an inspiration to everyone who cares deeply for the children in our region.”
Branigan, who was seemingly filled with emotions of the moment that also touched everyone inside Brewed Awakenings, as well as owner/operator David Levesque, paused before adding: “Hasbro Children’s Hospital is fortunate to have the support of the Goodfellas; they are a special group of men with very big hearts!”
Few people would dispute that theory, quite simply because the Goodfellas Motorcycle Club presented a check for $7,200 that Branigan graciously accepted to take back to the award-winning Providence-based children’s hospital.
“Incredible … absolutely awesome,” Levesque added while offering congratulations to Anthony “Cal” Calabro and members of the Goodfellas Motorcycle Club. “And you’re making another donation?”
To which Eugene Benedetti, president of the fun-loving Goodfellas Motorcycle Club replied: “Yes sir, we’re donation $1,000 to the Tomorrow Fund!”
That’s because his late son, Freddie Benedetti Jr., passed away at age 11 after battling Leukemia.
In all, the Goodfellas Motorcycle Club’s donation totaled $8,200 that was the result of a motorcycle run/outing held inside Johnston War Memorial Park and stemmed from many morning conversations at Brewed Awakenings about doing something for a charity.
“We actually have friends who are involved with various non-profits who have raised lots of money for Hasbro Children’s Hospital,” Calabro, who lost his son Anthony Edward Calabro back in 1991 after two heart operations in Boston, explained. “Hasbro wasn’t built then, but we have been impressed with the work the JMCE (Johnston Memorial Cancer Events) has done so that’s why we also adopted Hasbro as the beneficiary of our event.”
That event came in September and motorcycle owners paid $20 each to participate in the run that made several stops at places like Dan’s in West Greenwich and Bishop Hill Tavern after starting at the Municipal Courthouse on Atwood Avenue and returning to Johnston War Memorial Park for food, fun and fellowship.
During that time, three other Goodfellas asked Calabro, who spearheaded the event, if their late family member names could be attached to the “in memory” list and that obviously met with approval so last week’s donation was also made in honor of Sue Ann Demetropoulos, Paul Jorge Roque and Tim Davey.
When asked if there will be another event in 2018, Calabro said with a smile: “For sure! Please remember we’re a group of good fellas, mostly of Italian heritage, who love helping others … especially children who have been stricken with cancer.”
Once the ceremony concluded last Thursday and people were leaving Brewed Awakenings, a grey-haired balding man congratulated Levesque and saying how impressed he was to learn that the $8,200 fund-raiser actually began inside his popular coffee shop.
“What you should also know is that Cal Calabro has always been a big hitter,” the man said. “There was a time when he was among the best slow-pitch softball players in New England. Man, could he hit it. But this donation is a grand slam and will certainly provide for the families of children who have been stricken with cancer and are undergoing treatment at Hasbro Hospital.”