By Sara Brown
Rick Freni got wind that his wife was planning a surprise 40th birthday party for him. He convinced his wife to tell their guests that instead of buying him gifts they should bring school supplies for the special education classrooms for the Revere public schools.
“It all took off from there. That was our first donation,” Freni said.
That birthday party became the catalyst for the Little Ricky Foundation. The Little Ricky Foundation is based on two things: first, bringing autism awareness to the community; second, raising funds for the special needs classroom, according to their website.
Freni’s son, Rick Junior, was diagnosed with autism when he was 15 months old. “We knew something was wrong,” Freni reflected.
Freni said that the Revere public school system has been so great with his son that he felt the need to give back.
“The teachers there are fantastic. I can’t praise them enough. I think we have one of the best special education departments in the state,” Freni said.
This Saturday the foundation will be hosting the Annual Frosty Ball Golf Outing at Kelly Greens in Nahant. The money raised will go to the Little Ricky Scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded to a Revere high school senior.
“We will play a little golf in the snow, eat a great dinner and raffle off some major league baseball memorabilia. It should be a fun day,” Freni said.
The foundation raises money to buy crafts, electronics and basic necessities for special education classrooms. They have even purchased a Smart Board for one classroom.
“We want to give these wonderful teachers the tools they need to succeed,” Freni said.
Sometimes the organization even takes students on field trips. “We want to let them know there is a world outside their classroom,” Freni explained.
Little Rick is 17 years old now and is doing “great” says his father.
“I remember saying years and years ago to one of his teachers, “I just want him to be able to say ‘hey dad,’ and now he says that plus ‘Hey dad, can I borrow 20 bucks?’ or “Hey dad, can we go on a train ride?’ He loves trains,” Freni said.
Freni said he would love to see more people become active in the foundation. Also, his ultimate goal is to develop an after-school program for students with autism.
“There is no after-school program right now. Their day ends at 2:30—I would like them to get involved in sports and things like that,” he said.
For more information, access www.littlericky.vpweb.com.