Philanthropy award goes to West Jeff teen

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Santino Carnevale

(Posted Nov. 22, 2022)

On Nov. 22, the Central Ohio Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) presented their Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award to Santino Carnevale, a teen from West Jefferson.

Since 1992, the Central Ohio AFP board has publicly recognized local philanthropic leaders and celebrated their impact in the community through National Philanthropy Day.

Santino, a sophomore at West Jefferson High School, has found himself within the cancer world the entirety of his life. In March 2006, just 10 days after Santino’s parents, Michael and Brooke, found out they were expecting a child, Michael was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma–a rare head and neck cancer. In 2015, at 9 years old, Santino made the decision to stand up and do something in the fight against cancer. At a young age, he possessed a desire to help others going through similar battles.

Santino began by organizing a lemonade stand and bake sale. He did it in honor of his father, as well as his grandfather, the late Franklin County Sheriff Jim Karnes, who passed away from pancreatic cancer when Santino was 4 years old. The first year of the lemonade stand, Santino raised $5,000, and he has never looked back. He formed an initiative known as “Santino’s Crusade for a Cancer-Free World.” In addition to the lemonade stand and bake sale, he hosts an Ohio State tailgate party in West Jefferson. His family, friends, and classmates have joined him in his efforts.

Santino is widely known throughout The James as one of the youngest adolescents to establish a fund and is often referred to as “Santino, the Cancer Crusader.” Santino created the Head and Neck Cancer Strategic Support Fund at The OSUCCC-James in his father’s honor in 2015. Unfortunately, Michael succumbed to his long battle with cancer in the fall of 2016, but that hasn’t slowed Santino’s efforts in the least.

Proceeds raised from Santino’s initiatives have exceeded $135,000 for the Head and Neck Cancer Strategic Fund.

Santino holds a 4.0 grade point average (GPA), serves as class vice president, and is a scholar athlete at West Jefferson High School. He is a member of the soccer and track teams and played basketball his freshman year. He is active in Renaissance Class, a group that works to promote and improve school culture. He also is a member of student council.

Outside of school, he is a member of the James Ambassador Society at OSUCCC-James and is the youngest member inducted into the society. He is a referee for West Jefferson youth soccer and has served as assistant coordinator of the West Jefferson Ox Roast.

In addition to the AFP philanthropy award, Santino has received the 2018 Jefferson Award which recognizes individuals who do extraordinary things in their community, the Shining Star Award from the Sons of Italy honoring people who make a difference, and the Leon Garrett Award for students with above average GPAs and outstanding leadership and community involvement.

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