WBOS-FM Radio Host Jason Rossi Honors Friend through Frank Says Hi Foundation
October 10, 2015
By Jennifer Amato
While Francis “Frankie” DeCandia was in the hospital battling leukemia in 2008, he was talking to his best friend, Jason Rossi.
At the end of their conversation, which would be the last time they ever spoke, Frankie asked for a favor: to tell everyone that he said hi.
When Rossi asked, “Who do you want me to tell?” Frankie said, “Everyone. Tell everyone I said hi.”
Rossi remembered this exchange after the 22-year-old Malden, MA, resident passed away, and with the help of Frankie’s father Frank, mother Marcie and sister Stephanie, Rossi started the Frank Says Hi foundation in his memory.
“Those were the last words I shared with the greatest friend I’ve ever had,” said Rossi, the Promotions Director and on-air host for Radio 92.9 WBOS-FM in Boston.
Rossi met Frankie during their freshman year of high school. They had classes and lunch together, and eventually became better friends, going to the movies, concerts, parties and each other’s houses, much like most people do in high school.
“[Frankie] was very friendly, very happy, very smart—supersmart. He was a well-spoken young man” with a “great spirit” who was “fun to be around,” Rossi said. Although Frankie attended Suffolk University for journalism and Rossi enrolled at a school for graphic design, they kept in touch “before we had cell phones,” Rossi laughed. They would occasionally grab lunch together and see each other on holiday breaks.
However, in January 2006, Frankie was diagnosed with a form of leukemia called CML. He had a stem cell transplant and was subsequently secluded at home for about a year.
In 2007, Frankie began to return to his normal life but developed complications from CML, and lost his battle in April 2008. “It was the most devastating thing I had experienced,” Rossi said. “… But I’m thankful for that time because I became one of the closest people to his family.”
Thus, Frank Says Hi was established in 2010 to raise money for scholarships for deserving college-bound students in the Malden area who have an interest in communications.
“Frank was very smart. He liked school. School is something he was good at, school was something he looked forward to, and he flourished in it,” Rossi said about why the foundation decided to focus on scholarships.
Since the organization’s inception, more than $70,000 has been raised through yearly banquets, pancake breakfasts and holiday bazaars, among other events.
Each spring, one student is chosen from Malden High School in Frank’s hometown and from Frank’s alma mater, Pope John XXIII High School in Everett. As of this year, 20 students have received scholarships in Frankie’s honor.
In addition, Rossi said the foundation has committed at least $5,000 a year to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
“What a great way to impact somebody else’s life like [Frankie] impacted mine,” Rossi said. “This was a tragedy but I don’t want to always look back and be sad; I want to look back at this as something positive.”
For more information, visit www.franksayshi.com