GREEN BAY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Brown County

Pope Francis donates wristwatch to local foundation honoring Brian LaViolette

Local News

GREEN BAY, Wis.(WFRV)- For nearly 30-years, the Brian LaViolette Scholarship Foundation has awarded over one thousand scholarships to college-bound students worldwide. “My wife and I got involved in the foundation and agreed to chair this campaign,” said Michael Calawerts.

The campaign involves wristwatches, which Brian LaViolette loved and collected before he died in a swimming accident in 1992. His family created the foundation as a way to honor him. Austin Rios and Brian were best friends growing up. “I always resonated with Brian because he wasn’t afraid of the deeper questions and neither was I,” said Rios. Currently, an Episcopal Priest living in Rome, Rios set the ground work towards getting a watch from Pope Francis.

With some help from Diocese of Green Bay Bishop David Ricken, that included a letter to the Pope. “I’m a faithful person who believes that if you don’t ask, you won’t receive,” said Rios. Over the summer, the watch arrived.

Rios was there the day Brian died and recalled their last conversation. “We talked about what we wanted to do in life,” said Rios. This was the first time Doug LaViolette, Brian’s father ever heard about the conversation. ” To hear the depth of his thoughts on that last conversation that he and Brian had…it was overwhelming,” said Doug.

The auction will be held in February 2022, and all of the watches collected including the one from Pope Francis will be held in safe keeping until then. For more information on the Foundation visit https://www.briansjourney.com

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