Oneonta Boys and Girls Club Program Director Gary Dilello received the group’s initial Living Legacy award, during its annual awards ceremony. It was held Thursday at the River Street facility.
Club associate director, Jennifer O’Donnell, said the award was created especially for Dilello, who has worked at the facility for more than 30 years. She is a granddaughter of club founder Carl J. Delberta. Along with her family members, he has been a big part of the club’s success, she said. Nearly 200 past members of the organization attended the ceremony, along with current members and their families. The lessons members learned from Dilello will stay with them for a lifetime, she said. The honor could be an annual event, but will only be given when someone has earned the title.
Dilello acknowledged the recognition by saying he was speechless. After the ceremony, he said it came as a surprise. He attributed his success to his “loving family.”
The event started with an approximately 20-minute tribute film, that gave some of the former members a chance to share their memories. O’Donnell said on the video that a lot of people say they want to make a difference in people’s lives, but “you’ve done that,” as evidenced by the number who have traveled to attend.
“I’m proud to call you a friend,” said O’Donnell.
Oneonta High School Girls Varsity Basketball Coach Matt Miller, said “you made everyone feel they were valuable. You made us feel special.”
Jon Greco, who was a member in the ‘90’s, said “you taught us about winning, losing and forgiveness.”
Speaking later during the ceremony, he expressed gratitude that Dilello received the sort of recognition that is usually given to people after they die. He was one of his first teachers, and he “touched the hearts” of countless children over the years, Greco said.
“That’s what a living legacy is all about.”