FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ~ Saturday, October 12, 2019
Contact: Matthew Perricone, President ~ 973-615-3501 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
Ramsey, NJ ~ The Leonidas Foundation & Don Bosco Preparatory High School were proud to welcome the third cohort of school’s The L.E.O. Program at its annual Pinning Ceremony on Wednesday evening in Savio Hall at the school’s Ramsey New Jersey campus.
Twenty-five junior students were ceremoniously pinned in anticipation of the January 2020 commencement of their L.E.O. Program course. In the presence of current and graduated L.E.O. Program students, family, friends, Leonidas Foundation representatives, and members of the Don Bosco Prep religious and lay communities, the students heard testimony from their peers who have experienced the course along with best wishes from administration.
Following a welcome blessing by Fr. Jim Heuser, Director of Don Bosco Prep, students were greeted by Prof. John Esposito, Director of the L.E.O Program who recognized Ms. Tayler Falvey, the new Entrepreneurship Aide at Don Bosco Prep, and her contributions to the program. Leonidas Foundation Trustee Teddy Vagias, whose late son is the program’s namesake, offered a powered call to action expressing the Foundation and the school's commitment to investing in the students with the expectation that the students will commit to the coursework and interactive learning experiences.
The inductees were addressed by Don Bosco Prep alumnus and L.E.O. Program supporter Joseph Wexler. Since graduating from Fordham University in 2010, Joe has worked as a financial advisor. He currently serves on the Alumni Board for both Don Bosco Prep and Fordham University.
One of the highlights of the evening came when four former and current L.E.O. Program students spoke to those gathered about their experiences in L.E.O.. Owen Doherty, a member of the inaugural L.E.O. cohort, and fellow classmate Joseph Capone conveyed the gravity of the opportunity that L.E.O. offers the students involved.
Two current L.E.O. Program students, Michael Marian and Gregory Brew, then spoke about their time so far in L.E.O. including the mentors they have interacted with, their trip to Washington D.C. this past summer and the upcoming “Shark Tank” type presentation, IronWorks, that will take place in January. At IronWorks the L.E.O. students will pitch the businesses being developed with adult mentors to a real panel of investors, with the event serving as the culmination of their L.E.O. Program coursework.
Prior to the pinning exercise, Leonidas Foundation President Matthew Perricone ‘15 spoke to the attendees about the Foundation’s efforts in conjunction with Don Bosco Prep to formulate and develop the L.E.O. Program. The new L.E.O. students were then pinned by President Perricone, Vice President Alex Cucciniello ‘15, Prof. Esposito, and Trustee Vagias. Principal Manny Morelli concluded the evening’s festivities with words of encouragement to the new L.E.O. Program students and their families while discussing how the L.E.O. Program is serving as a model for the curriculum pathways programs that are being developed at Don Bosco Prep to enhance its preparation of its young men for their undergraduate studies and beyond
L.E.O. Program Students from Don Bosco Prep Complete Second Annual “Summer Leadership Conference” in Washington, D.C.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 24, 2019
Washington, D.C. ~ Thirteen students in Don Bosco Preparatory High School’s L.E.O. Program business pathway track successfully participated in and completed the second annual Summer Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. over the past two days. The conference is sponsored by The Leonidas Foundation and Mason Harriman Group, a D.C. consulting firm led by Teddy Vagias, who moderated the panel discussions.
The group of rising seniors departed New Jersey in the early morning hours of Saturday, June 22 and arrived in our nation’s capital before settling in at Mason Harriman Group’s headquarters in DuPont Circle. Over the next two days, the young men were addressed by twenty-five speakers from a wide variety of public and private sector backgrounds and experiences.
Day One commenced with the first panel of professionals, comprised of former Department of Homeland Security agency leaders: former D.H.S. Undersecretary of Management Janet Hale, current Federal Chief Information Officer (C.I.O.) for the Office of Management and Budget Margie Graves, and National Credit Union Administration Deputy C.I.O. Rob Foster, along with Small Business Administration (S.B.A.) C.I.O. Maria Roat, who also served 26 years in the U.S. Navy.
The second panel featured three military leaders: current Military Fellow to the office of U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy and U.S. Air Force Major Michelle Hernandez, Library of Congress Chief Operations Officer for Library Collections and Services Group Joe Cappello, and Deputy Director for Enterprise Governance for D.H.S.’s National Protection and Programs Directorate Lee Smith.
After a walking tour of DuPont Circle, the students enjoyed a catered dinner shared with a Young Professionals Panel featuring eight government and business leaders all under 30 years of age. The panelists included Congressional aides, political operatives, public relations professionals, and private sector businesspeople providing a wide array of insight and expertise to the L.E.O. students.
Day Two began with a breakfast featuring Elaine Rigas and Niko Rigas. Ms. Rigas currently serves as Director of the Total Force Office and Human Capital Management at the National Maritime Intelligence Integration Office. Mr. Rigas serves in an official capacity within the Trump Administration.
Speaking next and providing a “Washington 101” was lifelong Washingtonian and recipient of the US Army’s Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, Dean G. Popps. Secretary Popps formerly served as Acting Assistant Secretary of The Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology. He spoke of his decorated career working with the military, especially his role in advising national security during the U.S. military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Secretary Popps provided a vivid description of the Washington, D.C. area with historical insights and personal anecdotes.
The following panel featured Chief of Business Operations for the Federal Emergency Management Authority’s Technical Hazards Division Duane Jenkins, Deputy C.I.O of D.H.S. Stephen Rice, Chief Technology Officer for the S.B.A. Sanjay Gupta, and Deputy Chief Procurement Officer for the Internal Revenue Service Harrison Smith.
The final panel of the weekend was comprised of former Special Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Presidential appointment as first C.I.O. of D.H.S. Stephen Cooper, Transformation Executive for the Department of Veterans Affairs Paul Brubaker, Principal at Emery Consulting Mark Emery, and former C.I.O. of D.H.S. Luke McCormack.
“Over the course of these panel discussions, our L.E.O. students have had the privilege of hearing the backstories and professional experiences from a number of highly influential government and business leaders of the past, present, and future,” said Matthew Perricone, President of The Leonidas Foundation. “The captivating insights and personal stories shared by these leaders of our nation with our students have provided a once in a lifetime opportunity for the young men to hear and interact with decision makers who have shaped the world as we know it.”
“Witnessing the students and panelists interactions over the past two days has been truly inspiring,” remarked Teddy Vagias. “These young men will be able to take these lessons and add knowledge to their repertoire as they seek to enhance themselves as future business and civic leaders of the world.”
“Our students’ participation in the L.E.O. Summer Leadership Conference has helped to enhance the lessons we have covered in our course at Don Bosco Prep, while exposing them to incomparable expertise of government leaders who have interacted significantly with those in the business world,” said Professor John Esposito, instructor and Dean of the L.E.O. Program. “I look forward to building upon the lessons learned here in Washington once the students return to the classroom in the fall.”
For more information on the L.E.O. Program and The Leonidas Foundation, please visit www.leouniteus.org.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sunday, April7, 2019
Contact: Matthew Perricone, President - 973-615-3501 - email@example.com
North Bergen, NJ ~ For the third consecutive year, The Leonidas Foundation enjoyed an overwhelming outpouring of community support and generosity at its Third Annual Kickoff Cocktail Reception. The event, held annually at The Waterside Restaurant & Catering in North Bergen, hosted over 500 generous attendees and featured in excess of 150 silent auction items as part of the Foundation’s effort to raise funds for service projects and community outreach while sustaining its endowments for its cornerstone, The L.E.O. Program (Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Opportunity) business education school at Don Bosco Preparatory High School in Ramsey and Mount Saint Dominic Academy in Caldwell.
Leonidas Foundation President Matthew Perricone and Vice President Alex Cucciniello welcomed the standing-room-only crowd as part of a program that included a performance by the New Jersey State Police Bagpipe Corps in honor of Leo Vagias and his best friend Sam Cali, who both passed away on June 20, 2016. Teddy Vagias, Leo’s father, presented the Foundation’s 2019 “Leader of the Year” Award, on behalf of his wife Frances and daughter Alexandra, to the 22 Don Bosco Prep seniors who were the first cohort to complete the L.E.O. Program.
“I am honored to present this award on behalf of my family and the foundation bearing my son’s name to the next generation of leaders,” said Teddy Vagias. “
Perricone also presented the administration of Mount Saint Dominic with an initial endowment check for $50,000.00 for the establishment of the L.E.O. Program at its first all-female high school. Leo’s sister Alexandra Vagias is a Mount alumna and cousin Katerina Holevas is a current student at the Essex County school.
“On behalf of the executive board of The Leonidas Foundation, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to all of the attendees, corporate sponsors, advertisers, auction item donors, financial contributors, benefactors, and volunteers who helped make this event such an immense success yet again,” said Perricone. “We are humbled by the support and partnership we have enjoyed from the community and look forward to continuing our mission to bring charity to the world in Leo’s name.”
After enjoying such a successful event, the Foundation will be hosting another fundraising event at Jersey Mike’s Subs in Fort Lee on May 4, 2019. Proceeds from the day’s sandwich sales will benefit The Leonidas Foundation at this location.
For more information on The Leonidas Foundation, including donation and volunteer opportunities and upcoming events, please visit www.LeoUniteUs.org.
The Leonidas Foundation announces partnership with Mount Saint Dominic Academy to establish second “L.E.O. Program” curriculum
Caldwell, NJ – The Leonidas Foundation is proud to announce that it will be establishing its second “L.E.O. Program” business curriculum at Mount Saint Dominic Academy in Caldwell, NJ. This will be the first private girls high school to offer the L.E.O. Program, which stands for “Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Opportunity.”
Approximately 15 students annually will be selected by a panel of Board members based on a comprehensive application process, complete with a professional resume and extensive interviewing. The program has attained a strong footing at Don Bosco Preparatory High School in Ramsey, NJ, where it was introduced in 2017. Leonidas “Leo” Vagias, the program’s namesake, was a Don Bosco alumnus. His sister, Alexandra, is an alumna of Mount Saint Dominic and his cousin, Katerina Holevas, is currently a sophomore student.
The prospect of this new program has garnered a welcome reception at Mount Saint Dominic. A vast majority of the current sophomore class has expressed serious interest in applying for placement in the program.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for young women to meet with successful entrepreneurs and executives to help them become future business leaders,” said Matthew Perricone, President of The Leonidas Foundation. “We are beyond excited to bring this program to Mount Saint Dominic Academy and thank the administration of the school for being eager partners throughout the launch process.”
The significance of the program’s name represents the focal three tenets of its curriculum: leadership, entrepreneurship, and opportunity. Intensive classroom instruction on a wide range of business topics is enhanced by interactive panel discussions with current business and government leaders. The participating students will have the opportunity to attend the L.E.O. Program’s Summer Leadership at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. as well as other off-site learning experiences.
Marissa Muoio, the Dean of Admissions and a 2008 graduate of the school, and Kristen Zosche, the school’s Director of Curriculum, offered the following joint statement: "We are thrilled to partner with the Leonidas Foundation to bring the LEO Program to Mount St. Dominic Academy. The core tenets of the program - leadership, entrepreneurship, and opportunity - resonate with the Mount's continued dedication to innovation within our curriculum."
For more information about The Leonidas Foundation and The L.E.O. program, please visit www.LeoUniteUs.com.
The Leonidas Foundation Announces Third Recipient of “Leader of the Year” Award: L.E.O. Program Inaugural Cohort
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ~ Tuesday, March 5, 2019
Contact: Matt Perricone, 973.615.3501, LeonidasFoundation@gmail.com
Ramsey, NJ ~ The Leonidas Foundation is proud to announce the third recipient of its annual “Leader of the Year” Award. The Foundation’s Executive Board has determined that this year’s award will be given to the 22 young men comprising the inaugural cohort of The L.E.O. Program business education track at Don Bosco Preparatory High School in Ramsey, NJ.
“Once again, we have selected an award recipient truly embodying our Foundation’s core principles of mind, body, and spirit,” said Matthew Perricone, President of The Leonidas Foundation. “The first cohort of L.E.O. Program students have worked with us to establish this entity and solidify the foundation for Leo’s favorite subject to continue to be taught to Don Bosco Prep students for years to come.”
“These young Ironmen are the first to complete this innovative and intensive business education program,” said Alex Cucciniello, the Foundation’s Vice President. “They possess the potential and preparedness to make their mark as entrepreneurs moving forward.”
The award will be presented to these exceptional student leaders at the third annual Leonidas Foundation Kickoff Event, to be held on Thursday, April 4, 2019 at The Waterside Restaurant in North Bergen, NJ.
“My family and I are so proud of these young entrepreneurs,” said Trustee Teddy Vagias, Leo’s father, on behalf of his wife Frances and daughter Alexandra. “Their commitment to scholarship and philanthropy is commendable and I can think of no better way to recognize these future masters of industry than to have them receive this award.”
The L.E.O. Program is a two semester curriculum that cultivates students’ business acumen using an interactive instructional approach. Under the direction of Professor John Esposito, students explore business principles with a focus on the core values of Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Opportunity. The curriculum spans students’ junior and senior years, with nearly 60 sophomores applying annually and approximately twenty-five rising juniors being selected. Typical classroom instruction is supplemented with guest lecturers from the business world and a Summer Leadership Conference at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. featuring high level government officials and corporate executives.
“It is with great humility the utmost appreciation that our students accept this Leader of the Year award,” said Professor Esposito. “This program has evolved into something truly embodying Leo Vagias’ lifelong interest in business, imparting knowledge and wisdom on the leaders of tomorrow. We will display this award in our classroom with pride as a constant reminder of Leo’s influence on the young men of our program.”
For more information about The Leonidas Foundation – including ticket and event information for the upcoming Kickoff Cocktail Party event – please visit www.LeoUniteUs.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - February 18, 2019
Contact: Matthew Perricone, President - 973-615-3501 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ramsey, NJ - Chris Riccobono - the founder, Chairman, and CEO of clothing start-up UNTUCKit - was the most recent guest speaker to the students in the L.E.O. Program business track at Don Bosco Preparatory High School. Mr. Riccobono, himself a Don Bosco Prep alumnus, spoke to the twenty-five juniors about his road from growing up in Bergen County, NJ to running his own multinational clothing company. This February 8, 2019 event was part of the L.E.O. Program’s interactive business education curriculum focusing on leadership, entrepreneurship, and opportunity.
Mr. Riccobono spoke of his uncertainty about his future career path during his time at Providence College, although he knew he wanted to own his own business eventually. He found a job that allowed him the flexibility to start his own business while fulfilling his current responsibilities, encouraging the LEO students not to worry about finding the perfect job, but to ensure they find employment to fulfill their financial obligations while charting their own course.
While balancing his work at GE Healthcare with running his own wine blog “Pardon That Vine,” Mr. Riccobono enrolled at Columbia Business School and earned his Master of Business Administration degree through their Executive Education program. His wine blog provided an in-depth learning experience about social media and e-commerce. All the while, he continuously thought of ideas for a business of his own.
Mr. Riccobono found his passion when he came up with a solution to the problem of untucked dress shirts looking sloppy as the world shifted towards a more business casual approach - an issue he personally experienced. He launched UNTUCKit in 2011 with only $100,000 in start-up capital. Mr. Riccobono created a story to establish the brand, differentiating the everyday use of his product with the conceptual idea: this business solves a problem all men face. He knew there would be a market for UNTUCKit since it was an issue he himself had experienced.
UNTUCKit was profitable in each of its first three years in business, a rare feat for a start-up operation. The company did not have a physical office or staff until year 5, at which time it started giving out equity at a high valuation. UNTUCKit opened its first physical store location in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood in 2015 and has been expanding internationally, offering its products to a wide demographic (men aged 18-75 years) with its US brand ambassador, Super Bowl champion QB Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints.
Mr. Riccobono capitulated his presentation by highlighting the need to find a plan that can evolve as life does, maintaining a career while developing one’s own business ideas, and always creating a story. He stressed the critical importance of digital marketing and suggested that inclined students consider working in data at a start-up. He reminded the young men that family always comes first, but to be confident and always find a way to attain their goals.
“Mr. Riccobono’s story features lessons that can inspire our students as they proceed through this program,” said Professor John Esposito, the L.E.O. Program’s teacher. “His unrelenting drive, persistent work ethic, and focused approach to growing and developing his business should serve as a model for all young entrepreneurs.”
The Leonidas Foundation’s President, Matthew Perricone, offered the following statement: “The Leonidas Foundation and the L.E.O. Program are proud of Mr. Riccobono’s incredible accomplishments. We thank him for taking the time from his busy schedule to impart his wisdom, experience, and prowess on our young entrepreneurs who will be working on creating their own start-up ideas as they move through this program.”
For more information on The Leonidas Foundation and The L.E.O. Program, please visit www.LeoUniteUs.com.
In its first "Shark Tank"-like competition, Don Bosco Preparatory students came up with creative business ideas, including a country-wide EZ-pass system and Simplex, a simple way for businesses to schedule and communicate.
The Leonidas Foundation awarded $10,000 in scholarships to the high school in Ramsey, as part of the L.E.O. Program's first "Ironworks" Entrepreneurship Competition.
Twenty-two L.E.O. Program seniors took part in a team-style competition similar to the popular television show, Shark Tank. Students were tasked with creating a new business idea to solve a common problem, formulate comprehensive marketing and substantive information about the product, and present their creations to a panel of investors from the financial, legal, automotive, banking and medical industries dubbed “Sharks.”
The ideas included:
Read more on NorthJersey.com
The Leonidas Foundation awards $10,000.00 in collegiate scholarships to L.E.O. Program seniors in “Ironworks” Entrepreneurship Competition
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Monday, February 11, 2019
Contact: Matthew Perricone, President (973-615-3501 / email@example.com)
Ramsey, NJ – The Leonidas Foundation is proud to announce that it has awarded $10,000.00 in collegiate scholarships as part of The L.E.O. Program’s first “Ironworks” Entrepreneurship Competition at Don Bosco Preparatory High School this evening.
The twenty-two senior students in the L.E.O. Program’s inaugural cohort at Don Bosco Prep competed in a team-style competition similar to the popular television show, Shark Tank. Students were tasked with creating a new business idea that solves a common problem, formulating comprehensive marketing and substantive information about the product, and presenting their creations to a panel of real-life investors, known as “Sharks,” including leaders from the financial, legal, automotive, banking, and medical industries.
The products presented by the students and considered by the “Sharks” included:
The winning business idea selected by the “Sharks” was Simplex, whose team received $7,500.00 in scholarships. The runner-up was Ameripass, whose team members were awarded $2,500.00 scholarships. The audience also selected a “Most Socially Responsible” project, which was Critter Care and garnered $100.00 scholarships for each team member.
“Watching these students take ideas from the brainstorming phase all the way to tonight’s investor presentations was an impressive and fulfilling process,” said Professor John Esposito, the L.E.O. Program’s teacher. “The students have utilized countless aspects of the course curriculum in these presentations and we are very proud of the final products of their hard work.”
“The Leonidas Foundation is honored to present these scholarship monies as part of the inaugural ‘Ironworks’ event,” said President Matthew Perricone. “As the first cohort of the L.E.O. Program at Don Bosco Prep, these students have set the bar high for the years to come. We are all very proud of their accomplishments and wish them great prosperity as they transition into the next chapter of their lives.”
The Leonidas Foundation was formed in 2016 following the passing of Don Bosco Preparatory alumnus Leonidas “Leo” Vagias, an avid business enthusiast who expressed his desire to be an entrepreneur from an early age.
“These projects are not only the finished products of a year’s worth of education, but they are all viable businesses with the capacity to positively impact the real world,” said Teddy Vagias, Leo’s father, on behalf of the Vagias family. “This is what drove Leo in his passion for business, and it is incredible to see that same passion embodied among these young men this evening and every day moving forward.”
For more information about The Leonidas Foundation, please visit www.LeoUniteUs.org.
L.E.O. Program Students Represent Don Bosco Prep & The Leonidas Foundation In D.C. At Summer Leadership Conference
Tuesday, July 3, 2018 ~ Contact Matt Perricone, President: firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington, D.C. ~ The L.E.O. Program students of Don Bosco Preparatory High School attended a extraordinary summer learning program in Washington, D.C. from Sunday, June 24 – Friday, June 29, 2018.
The first annual "L.E.O. Program Summer Leadership Conference," hosted by The Leonidas Foundation in conjunction with Mason Harriman Group and The Catholic University of America, was a rousing success. Accompanied by Matthew Perricone, President of The Leonidas Foundation, John Esposito, LEO Program Director, and Teddy Vagias, Leo's father, seventeen young individuals traveled from Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J. to Washington, D.C. for this multi-faceted experience.
L.E.O. students arrived at Don Bosco Prep campus at 5:30am on Sunday morning, travelling from there to Newark Penn Station, where they boarded an Amtrak train bound for Washington’s Union Station. Upon their arrival in our Nation's Capital, the students immediately commenced their learning experience at Mason Harriman Group's corporate headquarters. There, they were addressed by eighteen current and former executives from different levels and departments of the federal government in a series of interactive sessions. Topics discussed by the speakers included academic and career advice, anecdotes about their own paths to their current roles in the government, and experiences within the world of business and public service.
Panelists included Secretary, and C-level executives from over 15 departments in the federal government. The departments they represented included, Departments of Interior, Treasury, Homeland Security, Defense, Agriculture, Commerce, Transportation, and all 5 branches of our military, including one admiral and a general. The panelists’ breadth of experience and expertise allowed for L.E.O. students to gain an understanding of our government and its workings.
The L.E.O. Program ambassadors then spent the next six days attending the Busch School Summer Business Institute at The Catholic University of America. This entrepreneur-focused summer institution provided a wide array of offerings to enrich the mind, body and spirit of the young scholars who attended, focusing on the core values of the L.E.O. Program: Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Opportunity; all while working to create entrepreneurs with a social conscience.
"This was truly an incredible experience for everyone involved," said Perricone. "The amount of learning and mentoring that took place this week was not just inspiring for our L.E.O. program students, but for the presenters, speakers, and educators as well. Our L.E.O. students came to Washington looking to learn more about our federal government and its intersection with business and entrepreneurship. They left Washington understanding that, and much more."
The L.E.O. Program was established at Don Bosco Prep in 2017 as a one-of-a-kind business education experience. The Leonidas Foundation established a $100,000 endowment at Don Bosco Prep to commence the Program's activities in 2017, showing its commitment to promoting academic excellence and an interactive business learning experience for the young individuals selected to participate.
For more information on The Leonidas Foundation, including upcoming events, background, and information on how to become involved, please visit their website at www.LeoUniteUs.org or e-mail email@example.com.
Entering its second year, the Leonidas Foundation remains determined to keep the spirit of athletic competitiveness and entrepreneurship alive. In other words, the spirit of Leo Vagias.
The former Don Bosco Prep/University of Rhode Island place kicker was killed in a car accident along with classmate and close friend Sam Cali in June of 2016. The Leonidas Foundation was created in honor of the student-athlete from Montville with many goals in mind.
Chief among them has been the start of the LEO (Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Opportunity) Program at Don Bosco Prep. This is a business-centric curriculum for a select group of students at the school.
Cooper: Leonidas Foundation gets a good start
To mark the organization’s anniversary, the Foundation will host a Kickoff party at The Waterside Restaurant in North Bergen on Thursday, April 19.
“We don’t want to stop what we’re doing,” foundation president Matt Perricone said. “We want to continue with what we are doing, especially the positive impacts that the program has had in a relatively short time.”
At the dinner, the organization will honor the entire Murray family with its Leadership Award. Patrick Murray was a standout kicker for Don Bosco Prep and Fordham and is now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Murray appeared in 12 games for the Bucs finishing 19 of 23 on field goals in 2017. Leo’s name is one of four that Patrick puts on a piece of tape on his wrist before every game.
Patrick’s brother Aidan kicked and punted at Don Bosco before playing for Rutgers. The boys father, also Aidan, has coached kickers and punters at Don Bosco for over a decade and Linda Murray works at the school.
“They just embody with our foundation is all about,” Leo’s father Teddy Vagias said last week. “We want to work on the mind, body and spirit and all four of them work with the minds, making you feel good about what you can achieve, they work with the spirit and keeping brotherhood in the mix. They are just awesome, and we love the number four, because it was Leo’s number.”
Perricone was also a special teams ace for the Ironmen and retains a deep connection to the Murray family. The younger Aidan Murray was Perricone’s and Leo Vagias’ “Ironman for a Day” partner when they were looking at the school, and he served as a mentor for the two of them at Don Bosco.
“What’s better than honoring an entire family where every single member has touched Leo’s life and so many other young people in a long period of time,” Perricone said. “It’s just the perfect fit.”
The winner of the Leadership Award last year was former Don Bosco Prep football coach Greg Toal.
Vagias said one of the key principles of the foundation is the idea of paying it forward for students and athletes. In business, this means networking and helping the next person in line advance. In that vein, the organization is considering creating a college scholarship opportunity for a high school student who starts as a walk-on.
“That’s one of the things that got Leo fired up,” Teddy Vagias said. “The concept of a walk-on was important to him. A player can earn a scholarship his sophomore year or junior year, but that first year, he will know someone believes in me.”
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While the program is deeply connected to its athletic roots (there was also a Sam Cali Invitational wrestling tournament in the winter), it’s easy to see the enthusiasm Vagias and Perricone have for the business program. Perricone said that the organization is in discussions with expanding the academic program at a handful of other schools in North Jersey.
“The LEO program has been a real success for our young men at Don Bosco Prep,” Don Bosco athletic director Brian McAleer said. “It’s been a great way of keeping Leo’s memory alive, while offering a new and unique academic experience for the students.”
Teddy Vagias sees a day where high school entrepreneurs are recruited just as much as talented athletes.
“What we want is colleges to line up at the doors of Don Bosco or other high schools and say I understand you have young entrepreneurs and we want to recruit them for our business school,” said Vagias.
For more information on the Leonidas Foundation and the Kickoff party, go to www.leouniteus.org