QUINCY — Gino D'Alessio is chasing his dream of becoming a professional baseball player. He was born and raised in Milwaukee and is now dazzling baseball fans in Quincy, Illinois.
Gino was honored with the first annual Jim Hoeppner Memorial Scholarship for $7,500 from Kids Chance of Wisconsin.
Gino received the scholarship at the Legend at Brandybrook Golf Course in Wales on Aug. 23. The finance major has a 3.8 GPA. But college almost seemed impossible after his father suffered a career-ending injury and was later diagnosed with esophageal cancer. At the golf outing, Gino gave a speech thanking everyone for their support. Gino praised his parents and said of his dad, "He was hands down greatest role model that I can ever ask for."
Lynn and Paul D'Alessio got emotional talking about their son.
"Very very proud of him!" exclaims Gino's mom Lynn.
Paul D'Alessio explains, "He knew what was going on and was still able to persevere and stay the course, and not let you know what was happening to us bring him down."
The family is grateful to Kids Chance of Wisconsin for helping Gino with emotional and financial support.
Gino shares, "I can't thank Kids Chance enough for what they've done for me. They will not only help me financially to pursue my education and my athletic dream, but they've been there mentally for me as well. They went above and beyond to support me through everything that I went through. I definitely cannot thank them enough!"
Kid's Chance of Wisconsin provides educational scholarships to children of Wisconsin workers who are seriously injured or killed because of a work-related accident.
Board President Allison Hanson explains, "We were founded to give scholarships specifically to young people just like Gino who had a parent or both parents that were either severely injured or deceased via a work accident. That's what we do all year round. We raise money to give the scholarships away to the kids. We've got various vendors that work with the insurance industry that will then donate money. They become partners, they donate thousands of dollars over several years to keep us moving forward."
Kids Chance board member Pat Condon is also Gino's mentor.
Condon shares, "His most important attribute that I've seen is that he's always cares about other people. He's not self-centered. He's always looking to find out how is what's going on in my life affecting someone else, and how can I make someone else happy. He keeps his nose to the grindstone. And he takes care of his school in a fashion that would be happy to assume to have a Summa Cum Laude graduate from a small liberal arts college, taking a very hard major and playing baseball that will one day take him to the professional level. He has great scouts with him. That's why he's at Quincy University."
Gino's parents moved to Quincy, Illinois to follow their son's career.
"I remember Gino saying every hit is for you, dad. I remember him saying that. And so, yeah, he played, he had an incredible season, he was on conference. He wasn't just playing for himself, he was playing for someone else, to make someone else happy," shares Paul D'Alessio.
Lynn D'Alessio recalls the challenge her son faced with a sick dad during the pandemic. "I know he had a lot of baseball buddies, but knowing he was trying to deal with this on his own was heartbreaking."
Paul D'Alessio saw early on his son was gifted.
"When he was one and a half, the way he moved and we threw the ball I realized, I don't even have to coach him. I do it one time and he does it one time. I'm like wow, okay! He was easy to coach, and you know that's going somewhere."
And with Paul D'Alessio fighting cancer, life takes on a new meaning.
He observes, "All the little things matter the most. Making other people happy, and being kind to one another, is so huge."
Gino learned that message. He's humble and filled with gratitude for his teammates and coaches. "I probably wouldn't have made it through it as well as I did without them," said Gino.
Lynn and Paul admit, watching Gino play is a welcomed distraction.
"Watching him play baseball just brings joy," says Lynn.
Paul adds, "It's a good outlet. That kept my mind off anything that might have been happening."
"Seeing him means the world to us," states Lynn.
The D'Alessio's are thankful for the winning team their son has on and off the diamond. And for Kids Chance of Wisconsin, the gift of support is a home run to the heart.