As of May 18, New York City has more than 198,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, and more than 20,000 residents have died. Queens native Dante Giraldi, a rising junior at the University, has started the #CrushCovid campaign to raise money for COVID-19-related response efforts.
Two students at St. John’s University, Joe Casillo and Ramin Mahdavi, helped Giraldi film a video he would use to launch his fundraiser. Giraldi launched #CrushCovid on May 17 via a video on Instagram.
“If you guys are looking for a great way to get involved, I'm starting a fundraiser in which half of all donations will go towards the first responders of Queens’ Hospital and the EMT workers who are fighting on the front lines of this virus,” he said in his post. “The remaining 50% will be donated to Gottschee Soccer Club and Archbishop Molloy High School. This money will serve as financial aid, helping those who may have lost a loved one to COVID-19, allowing them to stay enrolled in these incredibly hardworking programs and enabling them to continue in following their dreams.”
As an incentive for others to donate money to his fundraiser, Giraldi will run 26.2 miles if the campaign raises its goal of $20,000. He plans to livestream the run in three weeks.
When he returned home to Queens in March, Giraldi saw first-hand how the virus impacted New York. “The five boroughs have been absolutely crushed by COVID-19,” Giraldi said. “I know people who have best friends whose parents have died. At first, it seemed very distant when the virus was in other countries, but it quickly made its presence known here in the worst way possible.”
In mid-April, Queens was the epicenter of the coronavirus cases in New York City, with more than 32,000 confirmed cases and nearly 2,000 deaths.
Before enrolling at the University, Giraldi graduated from Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens. He also played for Gottschee Soccer Club from 2008 until 2017.
“Both the school and the club have kids from hardworking, immigrant families in Queens,” he said. “A lot of times, soccer and school might be the only way out. I realized how important it was for these kids to stay enrolled in these programs that have the same values of commitment, togetherness and unconditional love and support as Villanova.”
Initially, Giraldi was in touch with Archbishop Molloy High School and his former teachers. He learned that the school had lost a faculty member to COVID-19 and had a handful of students who also lost parents to the virus. These students faced financial difficulties and struggled to afford tuition.
“When I heard about the struggles students were facing, I realized how well Molloy treated me during my four years and thought about what that school was able to do for me,” Giraldi said.
He wanted to create a fundraiser to help these students, along with frontline workers, in New York. “They don’t deserve to leave school because they’re parents passed away,” Giraldi said. “They have enough on their plate — it’s hard enough already.”
“Molloy played a huge role in my life, and so did Gotschee,” he said. “I needed to do something to help them and give New York some sort of light.”
Giraldi noticed that a lot of people, especially students, want to help, whether in New York or another state.
“People want a way to help, but don’t know how,” he said. “I wanted to create a great outlet for people to get involved and get engaged. Maybe Crush Covid will be that something.”
Giraldi also hopes to contact New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who graduated from Archbishop Molloy in 1975. “I’m going to write a letter to Governor Cuomo to hopefully find out how best this money can be allocated, whether it be supplies, food, or another kind of support,” Giraldi added.
In just 24 hours, Giraldi’s #CrushCovid fundraiser has raised more than $3,000. He is still working on connecting with students at the University, alumni of Archbishop Molloy, former Gottschee soccer players and other New York City residents.
In three weeks, Giraldi will be running a designated amount of miles based on the amount he raises. His path will either be throughout New York City or Long Island.
“I’m hoping this campaign crushes $20,000,” Giraldi said enthusiastically. “With the help of the Villanova, Molloy, Gottschee and New York City community, I really think we can do it.”
To donate, Giraldi is accepting donations via Cash App ($CRUSHCOVID), Venmo (CRUSHCOVID) and Go Fund Me. To donate at his Go Fund Me page, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/crushcovid?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1.