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For the first time in 35 years, The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) hosted a gala in Dallas to showcase Texas’ vibrant community and celebrate our nation’s rich Italian heritage in the Southwest. The event was held on May 15, 2010, at the historic Adolphus hotel. President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura W. Bush served as honorary patrons of NIAF’s Texas Gala. This year’s gala dinner chairman was Joe DePinto, president and CEO of 7-Eleven, Inc., and a member of NIAF’s Board of Directors.
Mike Modano, Stanley Cup champion and seven-time NHL All-Star for the Dallas Stars along with Jay Lombardo, president and CEO of Lombardo Custom Apparel; Bruno Mascolo, CEO and a co-founder of international hair care business TONI&GUY; and Victor “Vic” Salvino, dealer principal of Texas Kenworth Co., received NIAF Special Achievement Awards before more than 400 prominent business leaders and sports celebrities. Bruno Mascolo’s brother Gaetano Mascolo, also a co-founder of TONI&GUY, received a NIAF Special Achievement Award posthumously.
To open the gala awards ceremony Jeff Cogen, president of the Dallas Stars, presented a NIAF Special Achievement Award in Sports to Modano, an Italian American at the pinnacle of his hockey career. Modano joined Cogen at the podium and thanked NIAF for the opportunities it provides young people through its many educational and cultural programs. In an emotional delivery, Modano spoke about the importance of discipline and hard work, attributes his father instilled in him at an early age.
To present a NIAF Special Achievement Award for Humanitarian Service, Victor Salvino, Jr. described his father as having “a heart bigger than the State of Texas.” Salvino, Sr. thanked his family and friends and recalled two very special people in his life: Kyle Woods, a quadriplegic whom he helped over the years, and President George W. Bush who has generously given his time to support Salvino’s many causes.
Lombardo, who received a NIAF Special Achievement Award in Fashion, recalled the journey his ancestors made from Sicily to Ellis Island and their many sacrifices for family. Lombardo’s business partner and NIAF area coordinator in North Texas Charlie Turano, Jr., presented the NIAF award to his longtime friend.
This year’s NIAF Special Achievement Awards in Business and the Arts was awarded to Bruno Mascolo and his late brother Gaetano. Mascolo spoke about the fragility of life and the effect of his brother’s death on his vision of life. He received his award from one of his associates, Paul Joseph Marzioli.
During the gala, Kenneth J. Aspromonte, former major league baseball player and manager for the Cleveland Indians and a NIAF vice president for the Southwest region, presented a scholarship in his name to Bianca Tamez-Buccino, a senior at the School of Science and Engineering at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center of Dallas, Texas.
Also part of the evening’s activities was a silent auction including one-of-a-kind sports memorabilia, Lombardo Custom apparel, a large canvas painting from Riposto Art, dining and travel gift certificates and several TONI&GUY hair care packages.
Immediately following dinner, guests enjoyed Paciugo gelato and danced to a medley of Frank Sinatra’s songs performed by Paul Salos, a finalist for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”