Rita’s Italian Ice, the nation’s largest Italian ice concept with more than 625 outlets in 20 states, announced Stuttering Foundationpresident Jane Fraser accepted a $10,000 donation from Tom Christopoul, chairman of Rita’s Italian Ice on behalf of Rita’s Treat Team member and American Idol contestant Lazaro Arbos yesterday.
Christopoul presented Fraser with the donation at Rita’s Naples, Florida, outlet, Arbos former workplace, in front of the American Idol cameras and a sea of cheering fans.
Jen Gibson, franchisee of Rita’s Naples, who hired the singing sensation, served Lazaro’s favorite Rita’s Strawberry Lemonade Iceto the crowd of more than 100, who wore bright pink shirts which said “Vote for Lazaro Arbos” to show their support.
“We couldn’t be more proud of Lazaro and we appreciate all Rita’s fans who voted for him,” Christopoul said at the check presentation. “We encourage others like Lazaro to find their voice, and are pleased to donate $10,000 to the Stuttering Foundation on behalf of Lazaro Arbos in support of his determination and strength. Our entire Rita’s family is pulling for Lazaro and we wish him continued success.”
Arbos, who turned heads when he first auditioned for American Idol because of his severe stutter, left the judges in absolute shock when his stuttering completely disappeared as he sang.
Now, Arbos is well on his way to becoming a broadcast superstar, earning a coveted spot in the finals for another week on the popular singing competition’s national television show.
“We are touched by the kindness of Mr. Christopoul and the Rita’s Italian Ice family for this donation on behalf of Lazaro Arbos,” Fraser said at the check presentation. “The courage of Lazaro Arbos, combined with the generosity of companies like Rita’s, allows us to continue our mission of helping those who stutter and their families, and educating the public about the myths and mysteries of stuttering.”
The Stuttering Foundation has been rooting for Arbos on his Facebook page since his American Idol audition several weeks ago, and has received hundreds of notes and letters of support from people who stutter and their families.
“The entire stuttering community is cheering for Lazaro,” Fraser said. “That’s 3 million voters in the U.S. alone.”