Twelve worthy Italian Americans were honored with a Leonardo da Vinci Award of Excellence at the 12th Annual Gala held on May 5 at BeauJolie by Victoria in Schiller Park. The event is hosted annually by the Grand Lodge of Illinois & Wisconsin, Order Sons of Italy in America.
Chairperson for the event Anna DeLuca welcomed honorees and guests, and introduced Richard Della Croce, who sang the American National Anthem and Italian National Anthem. Mr. Della Croce, Grand Lodge Immediate Past President and National Historian, served as emcee for the day.
In the spirit of da Vinci, the order recognized the successful and outstanding accomplishments of 12 honorees in their various paths and fields of endeavor.
Receiving this year’s awards were Donald Smiley, President & CEO of Summerfest, Milwaukee (Business Administration); Florian Barbi, President & CEO, First Nations Bank (Business Administration); Rev. David Simonetti, St. James Parish (Community Leadership); Mary Kay Entsminger, Asst. Supt. Chicago Heights School Dist. 170 (Education); Julie Shellberg, Supt. Ridgeland School Dist. 122 (Education); Rodolfo Clai, President & CEO The Clai Group, Ltd. (Entrepreneur); Cynthia Mill, Silkworm, Inc. – Principal (Entrepreneur); Ron Onesti, President & CEO, Onesti Entertainment (Entrepreneur); Hon. Judge Robert Lovero, Mayor City of Berwyn (Government); Gary D’Amato, Sports Reporter, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Journalism); John Bello, M.D., Ophthalmologist (Medicine); Aldo Madrigano, President & CEO, Beer Capital Distributing, Inc. (Special Business Recognition Award).
“Our recipients walk among giants in their chosen professions,” Grand Lodge President Marie Marsalli stated in presenting the awards. “They lead by example and truly embrace their Italian heritage. We wish them continued success in their endeavors.”
Entertainment was provided by Giovanni. In honor of and support for his friend a Vinci award recipient Ron Onesti, celebrity movie star and singer Frankie Avalon was in attendance.