Italian Day on The Drive for Courage concert series launches tonight, embodying community's tradition of generosity

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      This year, Italian Day on the Drive won't be happening in a physical sense. But for all of those who love Italian culture, it will be coming to a computer screen near you.

      At 9 p.m. this evening (June 26), Italian Day on The Drive for Courage will be launched with a livestream of a concert at Vancouver City Hall.

      It's all part of the Italian Heritage Month Virtual Celebration and can be viewed on the Italian Day website.

      "Inspired by Italy’s message of courage, delivered by uplifting music and song coming from balconies and rooftops during its COVID crisis, this performance marks the first of the virtual summer concert series, which will run throughout July and August," the organizers say on their website. "Italian Day on The Drive for Courage will embrace themes of hope, courage, and love—and how ’together we can make a difference’, while spreading healing within our community."

      Singer and businessman Federico Fuoco was the 2018 Italian Canadian Man of the Year for championing Little Italy.

      The Italian community is well-known for its generosity. This year, a key component of Italian Day on The Drive for Courage is raising funds for Coast Mental Health's fundraising campaign, Spread Courage, Not Fear.

      Because of the pandemic, Coast Mental Health had to cancel its 22nd Courage to Come Back Awards, which is a major fundraiser.

      Not surprisingly, the local Italian community is doing its part to fill the gap.

      Coun. Melissa De Genova (with baby Lili) and Il Centro vice president Randy Rinaldo played key roles in Vancouver city council designating part of Commercial Drive as Little Italy.

      Coast Mental Health has 11 homes in the community providing 24-hour staffing. In addition, it provides supported housing and temporary modular housing.

      That's not all. The organization also provides support services to people with mental-health issues at its Mount Pleasant Clubhouse and Seymour Street Resource Centre, as well as employment, education, and street-outreach programs.

      Later this year, the Italian community will hold another celebration to honour one of its most memorable members: Michael Cuccione, who embodied the concept of "together, we can make a difference."

      He was a talented singer, author, dancer, and actor, who died at the age of 16 in 2001 following complications from cancer.

      On September 19, Il Centro will host a dinner in honour of the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Michael Cuccione Foundation for childhood cancer research. If you haven't heard of Michael Cuccione, please take a few minutes and watch the video below. It will blow you away.

      Video: Watch this video about Michael Cuccione's inspirational and monumental contributions to the fight against childhood cancer.

      For updates on the Italian Day on The Drive for Courage concert series, visit the Italian Day website.