SAN RAFAEL (KPIX 5) – A North Bay couple whose son died twenty years ago has transformed their grief into something good. Dave and Rosie Basso decided that the best way to pay tribute to their son was to live life as he did.

Ten-year-old Fermin Valladares gives Dave and Rosie Basso a big thank-you.. and not just for the backpack full of school supplies.

“They give us presents when it’s our birthday, Christmas…” Valladares explained.

Her mother Estella couldn’t hide her emotions.

“I say thank you,” she said, teary-eyed. “Thank you for everything.”

Besides school supplies, the Bassos’ nonprofit, the Michael Basso Memorial Foundation, has also awarded scholarships,  adopted low-income families, supported sports programs, and donated food baskets for the homeless through groups like Homeward Bound.

The Bassos give to honor their 19-year-old son, Michael, who died in an accident.

“He was always for the underdog,” remembered his mother, Rosie Basso.

“The glass is half full, not half empty,” added his father Dave Basso.

The couple’s holiday food donations helped sustain Erik Wilson’s family.

“They don’t even know us at all and they doin’ what they feel is right,” Wilson said. “We over appreciative.”

Dave Basso credits his wife’s compassion and commitment.

“She’s the driving force, she really is,” he said.

Six years ago, Rosie Basso had a double lung transplant, but she still managed to get the backpacks filled and donated.

“Our friends helped and we got it done. That made me feel really good,” she remembered.

Randy DeMartini of the Salesian Boys and Girls Club says BOTH Bassos touch countless lives.

“You want to make the world a better place? You need people like the Bassos,” DeMartini said. “They just love so many people.”

The Bassos believe Michael would be proud of the $600,000 in scholarships and donations given away in his name.

“He’d be very happy. He’d say, ‘Atta way, Mom and Dad!'” they said with confidence.

So for their giving through The Michael Basso Memorial Foundation, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Rosie and Dave Basso.


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