Sixteen-year-old Hyde Park resident Claudio Coppola was killed in a one-car accident on Crum Elbow Road in Hyde Park in 2012. His parents, Lisa and Luigi Coppola, owners of Coppola's Restaurant in Hyde Park, decided to memorialize his compassion by establishing the Claudio Cares Foundation, designed to create meaningful and lasting change in the community's young people.
The tournament, known as "The Claude," was held at Poughkeepsie's McCann Golf Course. The event, organized by Claudio's grandparents, Karen and George Bajcar, has been one of the foundation's most successful fundraisers.
According to Luigi Coppola, the foundation has awarded over $80,000 in scholarships, built four computer labs in local schools, and donated over $20,000 to other local causes, including both the Roosevelt and Hyde Park fire departments.
Lisa Coppola added that the Claudio Cares Canned Food Drive -- now partnered with iHeart Media of the Hudson Valley -- has collected and distributed over 222,000 pounds of nonperishable food items to local food pantries, including Dutchess Outreach.
"Claudio cared about everyone, and helping to feed the hungry is just one way we are continuing the legacy of Claudio," Lisa Coppola said.
At the golf tournament, Luigi Coppola announced that the reconstruction of Crum Elbow Road is set to be completed ahead of schedule, possibly before Labor Day. He credited the hard work of County Executive Marcus Molinaro, the Dutchess County Department of Public Works, and many state and local officials that moved the $5 million dollar project ahead at a rapid pace.
The project is to improve safety and minimize seasonal flooding. Aspects include raising the road, replacing draining systems, stabilizing an embankment under the road, and adding new guide rails, pavement, signs and striping. When it's complete, the road will be dedicated Claudio.
For more information about the foundation, visit its website.
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