Rita's Italian Ice Donates $10,000 to Stuttering Foundation on Behalf of Treat Team Member and American Idol Finalist Lazaro Arbos

Popular Ice Chain Supports their Own and Others to Find their Voice with Donation

TREVOSE, Pa. - March 15, 2013 // PRNewswire // - Rita's Italian Ice, the nation's largest Italian Ice concept with over 625 outlets in 20 states announced, Stuttering Foundation president Jane Fraser accepted a $10,000 donation from Tom Christopoul, Chairman of Rita's Italian Ice on behalf of Rita's Treat Team member and top ten finalist, Lazaro Arbos , from American Idol 2013 (Season 12), the popular television singing competition, yesterday. Mr. Christopoul presented Ms. Fraser with the donation at Rita's Naples outlet, Arbos former workplace, in front of the American Idol cameras and a sea of cheering fans. Jen Gibson , franchisee of Rita's Naples, who hired the singing sensation, served Lazaro's favorite Rita's Strawberry Lemonade Ice to the crowd of over 100 who wore bright pink shirts which said, "Vote for Lazaro Arbos " to show their support.

"We couldn't be more proud of Lazaro and we appreciate all Rita's fans who voted for him," said Tom Christopoul, Chairman of Rita's Italian Ice, at the check presentation yesterday. "We encourage others like Lazaro to find their voice, and are pleased to donate $10,000 to the Stuttering Foundation on behalf of Lazaro Arbos in support of his determination and strength. Our entire Rita's family is pulling for Lazaro and we wish him continued success!"

Arbos, who turned heads when he first auditioned for American Idol because of his severe stutter, left the judges in absolute shock when his stuttering completely disappeared as he sang. Now Lazaro Arbos is well on his way to becoming a broadcast superstar earning a coveted spot in the finals for another week on the popular singing competition's national television show.

"We are touched by the kindness of Mr. Christopoul and the Rita's Italian Ice family for this donation on behalf of Lazaro Arbos ," said Fraser at the check presentation yesterday. "The courage of Lazaro Arbos combined with the generosity of companies like Rita's allows us to continue our mission of helping those who stutter and their families, and educating the public about the myths and mysteries of stuttering."

Fans decide which singers advance by casting their votes via phone, text, online or through the American Idol app. Rita's isn't leaving anything to chance and is encouraging their Facebook fans to vote for Lazaro.

The Stuttering Foundation has been rooting for Arbos on his Facebook page since his American Idol audition several weeks ago, and has received hundreds of notes and letters of support from people who stutter and their families. "The entire stuttering community is cheering for Lazaro," said Ms. Fraser. "That's three million voters in the U.S. alone!"

Foundation Spokesperson Jane Fraser

Jane Fraser is president of The Stuttering Foundation and co-author of If Your Child Stutters: A Guide for Parents, 8th edition. She is also vice president of the Action for Stammering Children, Michael Palin Centre, London.

About the Stuttering Foundation

Malcolm Fraser , a successful businessman and stutterer, went on to establish and endow the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation in 1947. The Stuttering Foundation provides a toll-free helpline, 800-992-9392, and free online resources on its Website, www.StutteringHelp.org, including services, referrals and support to people who stutter and their families, as well as support for research into the causes of stuttering. Please visit us at www.StutteringHelp.org.

About Rita's Franchise Company

Rita's Franchise Company, founded in 1984 and headquartered in Trevose, PA, is the largest Italian Ice concept in the United States, currently operating in 20 states with over 625 outlets. Rita's presently has international outlets opening in China, India, ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao), and Canada, and is continuing to grow nationally and internationally through franchise opportunities.

The popular chain offers a variety of frozen treats including its famous Italian Ice, made fresh daily with real fruit, available in over sixty flavors, Old-Fashioned Frozen Custard, Milkshakes, Sundaes with Unlimited Toppings, Light Custard, Frozen Custard Cakes, Custard Cookie Sandwiches made with OREO®, layered Gelati as well as its signature Misto® and Blendini® creations. Since 1984, "Ice, Custard, Happiness," has been the brand's motto, and almost thirty years later, Rita's is still dedicated to serving up a big dose of happiness with their freshly made, delicious, custom treats, in a fun-filled atmosphere.

Rita's topped the Zagat Survey for the #1 Best Quick Refreshment, Ice Cream/Custard for 2012, and was named one of the Top 25 Franchise High Performers by the Wall Street Journal's "Startup Journal" and named Top 100 on Entrepreneur Magazine's "Top 500 Franchise Rankings" in 2012. For more information about Rita's please call 1-800-677-7482 or visit www.ritasice.com or www.ownaritas.com

SOURCE Rita's Italian Ice

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