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Washington, D.C. - September 15, 2010 Leaders of the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA) and its philanthropic arm, the Sons of Italy Foundation® (SIF), presented $235,000 to Fondazione Il Cireneo Onlus per L'Autismo to rebuild a center for children with autism devastated by the April 2009 earthquake in L'Aquila, Italy.

The presentation took place during a visit to Italy on September 9th by OSIA National President Joseph J. DiTrapani, SIF President Vincent Sarno and OSIA National Executive Director/CEO Philip R. Piccigallo, Ph.D.

"When the earthquake hit, we knew immediately what we had to do. Within hours, we organized a fund-raising campaign and our members and supporters stepped up to the task," said SIF President Sarno. "Upon hearing about the destruction of the Fondazione Il Cireneo center in L'Aquila, we saw the opportunity to make a significant impact on a very special group of children and their families."

Fondazione Il Cireneo Onlus per L'Autismo is a non-profit organization that has established and operates four centers for children and young adults with autism in the Abruzzo region. The foundation was formed by a group of parents who thought centers, rather than institutions, could better help their children with autism.* When the 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck on April 6, the Fondazione's facility in L'Aquila was destroyed, along with much of the ancient Italian town.

The OSIA delegation toured L'Aquila and met with representatives of Fondazione Il Cireneo Onlus. OSIA was also honored at a public ceremony with residents of L'Aquila in attendance, including parents of the children who will attend the new center. The group concluded its visit with a tour of the new site for the facility, estimated to be completed within the year.

In presenting a check for $235,000 to Fondazione Il Cireneo Onlus, National President DiTrapani said he "was certain that OSIA's 600,000 family members would be pleased with their contribution." He added that OSIA "proudly joined the Ronald McDonald Charities and the governments of Canada and Quebec" in contributing some $750,000 total to the project.

According to CEO Piccigallo, "the broader purpose of the visit was to strengthen the inextricable bond between Italy and the U.S." In addition to their time in L'Aquila, the OSIA leaders met with U.S. Embassy officials and with Italian Under Secretary of the Prime Minister's Office Gianni Letta at the Palazzo Chigi in Rome. The delegation also toured two renowned Italian facilities: The Alberto Sordi Foundation, an organization dedicated to elevating the caliber of life for the elderly, and the Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma, a teaching university and hospital whose advanced research technologies place it at the cutting edge of medical teaching and treatment.

"In our meetings at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, with Regional and Municipal officials in Abruzzo, with scientists and physicians at the Alberto Sordi Foundation and Università Campus Bio-Medico and, especially, with Under Secretary Gianni Letta," added Piccigallo, "the unbreakable bond between our two countries was emphasized and reciprocally extolled."

Established in 1905, OSIA has more than 600,000 family members and supporters and a network of more than 650 chapters coast to coast. OSIA works at the community, national and international levels to promote the heritage and culture of an estimated 26 million Italian Americans.

The Sons of Italy Foundation®, established in 1959, has contributed more than $110 million to scholarships, medical research, cultural preservation, disaster relief, and other projects.

*For more information about Fondazione Il Cireneo, visit (Note: this website is in Italian.)