RMU mourns the death of Marco Giovengo

Sabine Cherenfant, Staff Writer

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It was around 7 p.m. when students near the apartments and Marshall Hall looked puzzled at the scene of an ambulance and police cars. The Dean of Students, John Michalenko, President Dell’Omo and the Assistant Director of Residence Life, Anne Lahoda, were all present at the scene, going in and out of Lexington.

A trail of students sat at the lower curb in front of Salem and several Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity brothers stayed closer to the scene near the Marshall parking lot.  Something was wrong with senior, sports management major, Marco Giovengo.

At 10:10 p.m., a message was sent from the Office of the President informing RMU students that Giovengo had passed away that evening from a heart attack.

Earlier that day, Giovengo had sent a text to his best friend, junior Danny Bonaventura, and spent time with him and Luke Shaffer, junior, while watching the Missouri and Norfolk State March Madness game.

“He was disappointed in the way that Missouri was playing because he had picked them to go to the final four on his bracket,” remembered Bonaventura. “At the same time, he said to me, ‘Dan, I can’t be too upset because I love underdogs.’ He felt like he was an underdog himself, and he has been one his entire life.”

After the game, Bonaventura and Shaffer hung out with Giovengo for another 10 minutes and went to Romo’s Cafe to meet up with some friends around 6:55 p.m. When they arrived in Romo’s Cafe, Bonaventura’s phone rang, and Giovengo’s number showed up.

“I thought it was weird right off the bat,” said Bonaventura. “I had just been with him.” Bonaventura also added that he was supposed to go back to Giovengo’s apartment with the friends he was meeting in Romo’s Cafe upon Giovengo’s request. The friends were women, and he wanted to spend time with them.

When Bonaventura answered his phone, he realized that it was not Giovengo on the other line, rather his nurse urging him to come back to Lexington as soon as possible. Giovengo was not responding.

“I took off across campus and ran down the hills where the volleyball sand court is,” explained Bonaventura. When he arrived in Lexington, the dispatched police officers had also just arrived, and Bonaventura asked them to follow him to Giovengo’s room.

When they got to Giovengo’s room, the nurse asked Bonaventura to try to talk to Giovengo and get him to respond. Bonaventura placed his hand on Giovengo’s hand and asked him to squeeze his hand if he could hear him. He did so at first.

Giovengo was then moved to the floor where Bonaventura asked him again to squeeze his hand if he could hear his voice. He did not respond this time.

Michalenko, who was on the campus that evening, was notified that Giovengo was in distress. On his way down the hills from Sewall, he received another phone call, informing him that Giovengo had passed away.

“It seems like it couldn’t be real,” said Bonaventura. “I was living a nightmare.” To commemorate Giovengo, Bonaventura wrote a blog about him, which went viral among the RMU campus.

Some of his fraternity brothers from Phi Sigma Kappa were in Lexington at that time and witnessed the paramedics going into Giovengo’s apartment. They were some of the first to hear the news about Giovengo’s death. Grief Counselor Randon Willard talked to Bonaventura and them.

On Sunday, Giovengo’s fellow fraternity brothers went to Wal-Mart to collect money for muscular dystrophy research, an initiative that Giovengo had led before his passing. On Sunday March 25, they also joined the Pittsburgh 2012 Muscle Walk at the Pittsburgh Mills Mall.

Junior Treadwell Lewis, who had become good friend with Giovengo after being classmates in their management science class, described Giovengo as a very funny, caring, loyal, and widely popular friend.

“The relationships that he had were very close relationships,” explained Lewis. “For example, he was a huge Pittsburgh Pirates fan in spite of their fallout.”

“It’s really tough; it hurts a lot,” added Lewis. “There’s nothing you can do except remember the good times and what he stood for in life.”

On Sunday, March 18, the Catholic Campus Ministry hosted a special rosary for Giovengo at 7:30 p.m.

Monday, March 19 and Tuesday March 20, contained wakes that were held at the T. B. Devlin Funeral Home from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on both days and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday. His funeral was held on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

“[Giovengo] was a beautiful human being who never thought he had a disability,” stated Michalenko.  “He touched the lives of many staff, students and faculty.”

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