This week, staff writer Laura Rysz talks with Katrina LaRusso about a fundraiser being held in memory of her brother Gino LaRusso, which will raise money for a suicide prevention program.
Professional background: Employed at Allied Services since 2007
Title: Event coordinator
Q: Tell us about Gino LaRusso.
A: Gino was such an inspiration to all who knew him. He had to experience life in order to learn and grow from his mistakes. He changed his life around, and he was so proud of all his accomplishments. He attended Lackawanna College for culinary arts, he had a job that he loved, and he bought his first home. Everything Gino wanted in life, he worked hard to make it happen. He did that with a smile even as he silently battled depression. On Oct. 4, 2018, he lost that fight and died by suicide. He was so caring and loving and would do anything for anyone. He was the most loyal person I knew.
Q:What is the inspiration for this event?
A: Six years ago Gino made a video on anti-bullying and suicide awareness on YouTube. In this video, he speaks that he wants awareness in schools and how we need to come up with a solution. I sat and watched it time and time again wondering what I could do, and it just came to me. I needed to start that one thing that my brother was never able to do — raise awareness and help get it in schools. The president of Lackawanna College put me in direct contact with Marsha Pigga, executive director of its student wellness program and Title IX coordinator. I shared Gino’s story, including my goals and vision, and was happy to learn Marsha shared the same vision.
Q: How will proceeds be used?
A: Proceeds will be given to Lackawanna College to expand its Suicide Prevention Program.
Q: Tell us about the basket raffles.
A: Some of the raffles are a full-sized football signed by Rashad Jennings of the New York Giants, an NFL Eagles basket, a fall-themed Bath & Body Works basket and much more.
Q: What else will be on hand at the event?
A: We will be having face painting by local artist Tee Valenta of Scranton, 50/50 tickets, food, a bounce house and performances by local rapper Noah Laske of Scranton, E57 featuring Michael “Duds” McDonald of Dupont, Josh “Not Duds” Zurek of Suscon, Chris “Not Ed” Sheerin of Jermyn, Han Sethro Mahaffey of Kingston and DJ Artimus Naugin of Carbondale. Kathy Wallace, vice president of Northeast Suicide Prevention Initiative, also will be attending to help us raise awareness.
If you go
What: Suicide Awareness Benefit in memory of Gino LaRusso
When: Saturday, Oct. 5, 3 to 7 p.m.
Where: VFW Post 25, 2291 Rockwell Ave., Scranton
Details: Tickets cost $25 for general admission and $10 for children 11 and older and are free for children 10 and younger. Tickets include and includes drinks and food. For more information, contact Katrina LaRusso at 570-309-9720 or visit the Facebook event page.
Laura Rysz is the features copy editor and calendar editor at The Times-Tribune and runs the Talk of the Times column, which focuses on local fundraisers and other events. She also writes Chef’s Table that profiles restaurants around the region. Additionally, Laura curates events online on AccessNEPA.com. Laura is involved in the special Mother’s Day edition and curates occasional features Marry Memories and Times Travelers. She is a graduate of Haddonfield Memorial High School, New Jersey, and earned an English professional writing degree with a minor in mass communications from King’s College, Wilkes-Barre. She also earned a certificate in Social Media Marketing from Rutgers Business School. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5228.