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Local chef raises $20,000 for BGCLC in quest to swim Channel

Event: Renaissance man, Gabriel Viti, Highwood’s successful chef/restaurateur who scaled the world’s seven summits, has never backed down from a challenge. So the when the 51-year-old, whose thirst for adventure is rivaled only by his passion for charity, decided to swim the English Channel to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Lake County, no one raised an eyebrow.

Instead, on July 9, more than 100 avid supporters came to Viti’s French/Cuban haunt, Miramar, in Highwood to spur on their local hero.

Cause célèbre: “I am committed…to inspire all young people, especially those who need the (Boys & Girls) Club most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens,” said Viti.

Having only learned to swim at the tender age of 39, Viti has been working diligently with local coach, Mike Tschantz-Hahn of Wilmette, veteran English Channel swimmer. In addition to this fundraiser, Viti hosts monthly dinners throughout the year at Miramar for club members and their families, and takes youth to dinner and the movies, and on shopping trips to local malls.

“I do my best to raise awareness about the Club whenever I can,” said Viti.

During the summer, BGCLC provides programming for more than 700 children from all over Lake County, including Waukegan, North Chicago and Zion.

“The outcomes and the differences that we make in children’s lives are real,” said Cesilie Price of Lake Forest, BGCLC CEO. “It’s so important to support the people of our future.”

Gabriel Viti, Sr., called his son’s charitable contribution ‘a given.’ “My family always gave. We give back to the town to the people, it’s very important to us and to my children,” said Viti Sr. “That’s what it’s all about. You’ve got to help the people who (are not) helped.”

Bottom line: The event raised more than $20,000 for BGCLC programming.

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