By: Markos Papadatos, Contributing Editor
The 21st Annual Hellenic Times GALA, which took place on May 12, 2012, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City, opened with a newscast introduction that featured veteran reporters Ernie Anastos, Alexis Christoforous, as well as chief meteorologist Nick Gregory.
Nick Katsoris, the President of the Hellenic Times Scholarship Fund (HTSF), made the opening remarks and introduced Eleni Rodopoulos Kaufman and Irene Hrousis, both of which performed the Greek and American national anthems respectively, and their renditions were exceptional.
Reverend Father Alexander Karloutsos delivered the invocation, and Katsoris went on to introduce Mr. Mike Emanuel, the chief congressional correspondent for Fox News Channel, who was this year’s recipient of the prestigious “Humanitarian Media Achievement Award.”
Emanuel was hailed by Katsoris as one the “greatest role models in the Greek-American community,” and as one of the most “grounded people one will ever meet.” In his acceptance speech, Emanuel thanked his parents for their faith in him, as well as for their unconditional love, and for allowing him to pursue a career that he was passionate about. He went on to congratulate this year’s scholarship recipients, John and Margo Catsimatidis, Nick Katsoris, and his wife [Evangelia] and his children.
Dennis Mehiel, the Chairman and CEO of US Corrugated, was the recipient of this year’s “Humanitarian Leadership Award,” which was presented to him by Mr. John Catsimatidis, the Chairman and CEO of the Red Apple Group.
Dressed in an elegant maroon dress, Margo Catsimatidis, the Vice Chairman of the HTSF and co-publisher of the Hellenic Times, announced the names of this year’s scholarship recipients.
The GALA featured such special guests and past honorees as John Aniston from Days of Our Lives, Frank Dicopoulos of Guiding Light, Academy Award-winning actress Olympia Dukakis, Ernie Anastos, and Grammy winner Gloria Gaynor.
The evening featured musical performances from Giannis Ploutarxos and Grammy nominated songbird Maxine Nightingale; moreover, Tony-nominated actor and American Idol alum Constantine Maroulis collaborated with Fame Story winner Kalomira. They sang Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” where his powerhouse rock voice blended well with Kalomira’s mellifluous vocals, and their performance was well-received by the audience.
Following Maroulis and Kalomira’s duet, Gloria Gaynor introduced fellow disco diva Maxine Nightingale who sang Donna Summer’s “On The Radio,” as well as a medley of “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls,” as well as her hit single “Right Back Where We Started From,” and delivered a rendition of Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family.”
Earlier in the day, the HTSF held workshops in “Business, Law and Real Estate,” which featured John Catsimatidis, Peter Kakoyiannis and Dennis Mehiel as panelists, and a “Media, The Arts and Fashion” workshop with panelists John Aniston, Alexis Christoforous, Frank Dicopoulos, Mike Emanuel and fashion designer Joanna Mastroianni. These stimulating workshops were sponsored by Mehiel and John Catsimatidis.
According to Teja Anderson, she stated, “this year it feels very exciting because our son, Jaden Dicopoulos, is a recipient.”
“My wife brought to my attention that this was our seventh year attending this event, and this year we are very proud of Jaden for his accomplishments,” said Frank Dicopoulos. “We support very much what John and Margo have been doing all these years in giving back to the Greek-American community!”
“It’s great to be part of something that continues to grow, not only in its relevance but also in its actual substance,” remarked Olympia Dukakis. Last year, the Oscar winning actress had the good fortune to present Gilles Marini with the HTSF “Humanitarian Media Achievement” honor, which she referred to as a “very special” moment. Dukakis revealed that her plans for the future include doing “Prospero in the Tempest with Shakespeare and Company, as well as Electra out in San Francisco, and a movie after next year.”
“It was an honor to be onstage and welcomed by some many inspiring dignitaries,” said 2012 HTSF recipient Philip Smith from Maryland.
“It’s absolutely amazing. I am so happy and honored to be here as the first Greek-American crowned Miss Teen America,” said Eleana Frangedis. For the Greek-American youth who wish to find success in their dream professions in life she recommends they “always follow their dreams” and “never give up no matter what anyone tells you!”
“The Hellenic Times GALA tonight was spectacular!” exclaimed Evangelia Douros, an attendee of the event. “I was happy to see Gloria Gaynor there, as well as Maxine Nightingale, Kalomira, Ploutarxos, and Constantine Maroulis.”
For more on the Hellenic Times Scholarship Fund, be sure to check out their official website: www.htsf.org.
Photo Credit: Jilian Nelson.