He’s hit a few bumps along the way to success, including a painful divorce. Yet the affable and ever-boyish co-host of Global’s ET Canada, and one of the country’s most popular television personalities, deserves praise and recognition for embodying the very Christian concept of caritas in his off-screen endeavours, “off-screen” being a relative term in this instance.
With his characteristic blend of sincerity and enthusiasm, Campanelli has become an energetic spokesperson and advocate for multiple children’s charities and youth development programs, most notably as a World Vision Canada ambassador. Panoram Italia caught up with the busy Campanelli to talk about his youth-related work, a subject he waxed about with obvious affection.
“My experience with World Vision Canada has been amazing,” he says. “People doing good with sponsorships and gifts — we get out to undeveloped countries every couple of years to document and report what is happening. We were in Ecuador this past July, visiting a daycare center for preschoolers run by World Vision employees, something that alleviates a lot of stress for the working mothers of the village. We sang and danced with the kids and gave out soccer balls (…) But it was great to see the good being done with the donations from generous Canadians.”
Campanelli’s involvement with World Vision dates back to 1996, when he first appeared on the MuchMusic scene. Indeed the 42-year-old Hamilton, Ontario, native has come a long way since his ‘Rick the Temp’ days on MuchMusic, carving himself a comfortable niche as an easy-going entertainment host with multigenerational, coast-to-coast appeal. And he hasn’t shied away from using that appeal and his particular brand of brio to promote worthy causes for youth.
“I’ve been involved with children’s charities and youth programs for a long time,” he explains, “but my son Noah will be eight this January. So it’s closer to me than ever. It’s a question of wanting to do good in this world. I want to give back as much as I can.”
In addition to his role World Vision Canada ambassador, Campanelli has hosted an array of charity and youth events, including emceeing WAVE (Working Against Violence Everyday) Empowering Youth Days. “It was easy to get involved with WAVE,” he says. “Louise Russo, an amazing woman, is fighting violence. Each and every year more kids come out. And what the kids are doing is excellent — what they’ve created in their schools and communities. And they’re awarded for their efforts.”
Campanelli, born Richardo Tomasso, has remained close to his Italian-Hamilton working class roots. “My parents still live in the same house I grew up in,” he admits with a chuckle. “They taught me everything about commitment and dedication. I understand strong family.” His three siblings, all married with two kids, were there for him when his first marriage faltered. “We’re devout Roman Catholics, so it was a blow — I’d felt I’d let them down. But in the end they were incredibly supportive, and they helped me get through those tough times.”
Although his family didn’t speak Italian at home, and his knowledge of it is passing, Campanelli is resolved to master the beautiful tongue. In a move designed to bring him closer to the Italian community and reach out to a younger Italian-Canadian radio demographic, Campanelli has recently signed on with CHIN Radio to appear each Friday morning from 7am to 9 am on Wake Up Italian Style, in a rather odd coupling with Italian-speaking Edoardo Monasterolo, something Campanelli calls a “passion project.”