January 28, 2009

Fourth Annual 21 Dinner Honors Boiardi ’04

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Saturday marked the fourth annual 21 Dinner, an event intended to honor fallen Cornell men’s lacrosse player George Boiardi ’04. Boiardi, who died in an accident on the lacrosse field in March 2004, wore jersey No. 21 –– a distinction that serves as the namesake for the fundraiser.
The dinner, once again hosted at Bridgewaters in New York City, was established by Jesse Rothstein ’03 as a means of paying tribute to his good friend and lacrosse teammate.
“It was a fantastic event; we had over 300 attendees, and we just had an unbelievable time remembering the life and legacy of George Boiardi,” said Rothstein.
Those in attendance were a combination of Boiardi’s high school friends from Landon in Washington, D.C., as well as his family, who came in from various parts of the country, including the D.C. area and Cleveland. Finally, there were Boiardi’s Cornell friends, who, according to Rothstein “came in literally from all over the country: California, Philadelphia, Boston, Florida…everywhere.”
Jeremy Schaap ’91, former Sun sports editor and current ESPN reporter, emceed the event, and social entrepreneur Stephen Paletta ’87 delivered the keynote address. Paletta, who also played for the men’s lacrosse team during his tenure at Cornell, was the 2008 winner of Oprah Winfrey’s “Big Give.”
“Stephen’s basic message was the whole notion of living a life that is focused on significance versus success,” said Rothstein. “He really focused on, and challenged people, to give back to their communities and think about serving others and finding ways to take part in activities that are much more focused on making others better, rather than making yourself better.”
With sales from the silent auction yet to be calculated, the total amount of money raised is still uncertain. However, Rothstein anticipates that the sum will be in the vicinity of $85,000.
Boiardi had planned on joining the South Dakota chapter of Teach for America following his graduation from Cornell. With that sentiment in mind, the proceeds from the 2006 and 2007 dinners were donated to said cause. However, for the second year in a row, the proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit the Mario St. George Boiardi Foundation, the mission of which, Rothstein says, is “to empower the next generation through academics and athletics.”