Frank Lonardelli grew up with his mother and three sisters on Arlington Street in Winnipeg, Manitoba. During the 1970s, Arlington Street was known as one of the roughest areas of the city, with high murder rates and surrounding poverty. Yet even amongst an environment flooded with adversity, there remained a positive spirit embodied by hardworking Italian immigrants like Frank’s family which instilled in him unshakeable values like hard work and determination.
His early years were faced with both the challenges of finding success in school and dealing with the reality of his personal and family life. After his father passed away when Frank was only three years old, his Mother was forced to raise her four children on her own as a first generation immigrant who knew little English.
Excelling in athletics at Gordon Bell School, Frank won both the freshman and varsity Athlete of the Year awards. Yet these trophies could not compare to the gifts he received from a few key teachers who made a significant difference in his life.
In his 2009 speech to the Gordon Bell graduating class, he openly shared the story of his own graduation day where rather then receiving an official diploma, he was instead given a blank piece of paper. Although he received athletic scholarships to attend various universities in Canada, his academic requirements fell short.
Through the guidance of a teacher, mentor and close friend, he went on to successfully complete high school the following year enabling him to accept his scholarships and begin a new chapter of his life.
To honour those who believed in him, Frank created the Arlington Street Foundation Scholarship. This is his way of giving back to the school by creating opportunities for deserving students who are facing their own adversities in life and in turn need someone who believes in them.