“This evening is a testament to Mr. DeBartolo’s belief that if we all continue to work together, we can provide opportunities to the young people in our valley.”
An elegant evening at the Covelli Center in downtown Youngstown on June 17, raised more than $200,000 for the Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial Scholarship Foundation. Guests enjoyed food stations from some of the area’s top restaurants and chefs, a live auction that included a trip to the next Super Bowl, and music featuring the sounds of Frank Sinatra presented by local crooner Angelo Babbaro and the Skatch Anderssen Orchestra. Some 350 people attended the event.
And, the game of football spiced the evening with many grid celebrities, including coaches and players in attendance—Among them, former Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris, who was silent when asked about his ‘Immaculate Reception’ in 1972 that gave his team a 13-7 playoff win over the Oakland Raiders. The play is often heralded as the greatest play ever.
On hand were many members of the San Francisco 49ers. (The team was purchased by the Boardman-based DeBartolo family in 1977 and under the leadership of Ed DeBartolo Jr. became the first franchise in NFL history to win five Super Bowl titles).
As introduced by Dr. John York, co-chairman of the Niners, they included—
- Azeez Al-Shaair, a fourth year undrafted free agent linebacker. Last year Azeez had 102 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries.
- Aaron Banks, who was a 2021 second round All American draft pick out of Notre Dame. He will be the Niners left guard in the upcoming season.
- Samson Ebukam, who is in his sixth year in the NFL and second with the 49ers. He had 4.5 sacks as a defensive lineman last year.
- Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, who is entering his fourth season as a linebacker for the 49ers. After spending his rookie year on the team’s practice squad, he has appeared in 28 games, including three starts, over the last two seasons.
- Talanoa Hufanga, who is entering his second season as a safety for the 49ers. Hufanga came to San Francisco as a fifth-round draft pick out of University of Southern California in the 2021. He returned the blocked punt for a touchdown in the NFC divisional game against the Green Bay Packers, as the 49ers won, 13-10.
- Drake Jackson, will be in his rookie season as a second round defensive lineman from USC. He was second team All-PAC-12 pick twice during his collegiate career.
Also on hand were a pair of Forty-Niner Hall of Famers, Tom Rathman and Bryant Young.
Rathman spent 23 years with San Francisco as both a player and coach. He was a member of two back-to-back Super Bowl championship teams (Super Bowl XXIII and XXIV). Following his playing career, he spent 15 years coaching San Francisco’s running backs, including Frank Gore, over a pair of stints (1996-2002 and 2009-16). Rathman finished his NFL career with 2,020 rushing yards, 320 receptions for 2,684 yards with a total of 34 touchdowns.
Young is the Niners’ newest Hall of Famer. He will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this August. He was the 49ers first round pick (7th overall) in the 1994 draft. He played his 14 seasons with the team and was a member of the Niners Super Bowl XXIX team. He was the NFL’s defensive Rookie of the Year in 1994, named All Pro four times. After a devastating leg injury in 1998, he was the Comeback Player of the Year in 1999.
In addition to members of the Niners, several local football personalities were at the Memorial Scholarship Foundation event.
They included Paul McFadden and Jim Tressel, out of Youngsown State football lore; and current Penguins Head Coach Doug Phillips; and former Cardinal Mooney standout Ed Muransky (current owner/operator of Southwoods Health).
McFadden, who is currently president of the Youngstown State University Foundation, gained note for his barefoot kicking style. He made the Philadelphia Eagles roster as a 12th-round pick in 1984 and earned Rookie of the Year honors. McFadden played in the NFL with the Eagles, Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants for six seasons (1984-1989). McFadden was originally recruited at YSU as a soccer player, and moved onto the gridiron in 1981 as a placekicker for the Penguins under Head Coach Bill Narduzzi. The first field goal he ever attempted, he made, from 54 yards out, at Murray State.
Tressel, current president of Youngstown State, led the Penguins to four national titles and six appearances in national championship games. After a stellar coaching career at YSU, he moved on to Ohio State where he won the national title in 2002 and his teams also dumped rival Michigan seven times during his tenure as head coach.
Muransky played football for Cardinal Mooney High School under legendary Head Coach Don Bucci. He was selected in the fourth round of the 1982 NFL draft by the Oakland Raiders. He played in 24 games and was a member of the Raiders Super Bowl XXVIII championship team.
Phillips came to YSU from the University of Cincinnati, where he was an assistant coach under Luke Fickell. Since Tressel’s tenure, only Bo Pelini, Phillips predecessor, has led the Pens to an appearance in the national title game.
The grid game not withstanding, the accent of the evening was on the DeBartolo Memorial Scholarship Foundation.
“This evening is a testament to Mr. DeBartolo’s belief that if we all continue to work together, we can provide opportunities to the young people in our valley,” Dr. York said.
The Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial Scholarship Foundation has awarded more than $1.6 million in scholarships over the past 25 years and strives to provide advanced education for deserving valley students well into the future.
Denise DeBartolo York and her husband, Dr. John York, San Francisco 49ers co-chairs and longtime education advocates, awarded 17 scholarships to graduating high school seniors from Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties during ceremonies held in May at the Lake Club.
The scholarships, part of The Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial Scholarship Foundation, totaled $170,000 and were presented to the recipients at The Lake Club during a luncheon for the students and their families.
The scholarship was first established by DeBartolo York’s father and several close friends, who worked to provide commendable youth the opportunity to continue their education.
The scholarship foundation, run by the Yorks in Mr. DeBartolo’s honor, serves to provide the same platform for excellent area youth in need of financial assistance.
Presenting sponsor for the event was Phantom Fireworks and the Zoldan family.
Major sponsors included Brown & Brown, Bury Financial, the Cafaro Foundation, Compco Industries, Covelli Enterprises, Candy and Edward DeBartolo, Furrie Vitullo Group Sparkle Markets, Garry and Wanda Mrozek and family, Hill Barth & King, JJ Cafaro Investment Trust, Mercy Health, Mercy Health Foundation, Muransky Companies, PNC, Rick’s Boot Factory Outlet, RT Vernal Paving, Simon Property, Trumbull Supply, Wesley Family Foundation/FLICORE, and Woeber Mustard Company.
This article is being republished with permission of the Boardman News.