After Papa Joe's dinner: Scholarship awarded to Darien YMCA special needs participant

Andrew Speziale, an avid participant in many YMCA special needs programs along with Ken D'Andrea
Andrew Speziale, an avid participant in many YMCA special needs programs along with Ken D’Andrea

A dinner at Papa Joe’s in Darien this summer led to a $1,000 scholarship for Andrew Speziale, a young man with special needs. Andrew was having dinner with his family when Ken D’Andrea, a member of the Stamford Knights of Columbus, spoke with him. D’Andrea was so impressed with Andrew’s outgoing, positive outlook and sense of humor that he nominated Andrew to be this year’s recipient of an award in memory of Phil Gambino at the Stamford Knights of Columbus’s Frank Robotti Golf Tournament. The $1,000 award is given to an individual with special needs to use towards programs. Andrew was awarded that scholarship on Sept. 6 and will be using it towards his favorite special needs programs at the Darien Y.

Andrew is well known around the Darien YMCA for his positive spirit and love of people. His outgoing and social personality lights up the room and brings joy to everyone around him. He loves making people laugh by cracking jokes. He wears a brace on his right leg but that doesn’t stop him from participating in the Y’s Focus on Fitness and Skill Builder programs or being a home run hitter on Darien Challenger baseball. When he’s not at the Y, Andrew enjoys listening to songs from the band Alabama or Elvis, riding as a passenger on his father’s motor bike, and watching Top Gun. He also loves singing, especially with his guitar and karaoke machine, and often gives impromptu concerts in the Y parking lot after the Friday Nights program.

When he was awarded the scholarship, Andrew was so grateful that he gave a speech. Having been born with multiple health conditions including Down’s Syndrome, he truly is an inspiration, the Darien YMCA said. 

For more information about the Darien Y and its programs for children with special needs, visit the Darien Y’s website at or call Suzanne Richards at the Y at 203-655-8228 ext. 1331.