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Sports Hall stages glittering 41st annual gala

Celebrating 41 years of Italian Americans in sports, the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame hosted its annual star-studded Induction and awards gala on Nov. 3 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

With 700 guests on hand, the NIASHF welcomed the all-star class of 2018, which included Rocco B. Commisso, owner and chairman of the New York Cosmos; Gina Carano, Muay Thai champion and MMA contender; Gene Pingatore, head coach of St. Joseph’s High School boys basketball team; and Joe Girardi, Major League Baseball All-Star and World Series champion player and manager.

Sharing the stage with this year’s inductees, Perry Mandera of the Custom Companies Inc. received the prestigious Sportsman of the Year Award in recognition of his philanthropic work through Custom Cares Charities. Custom Cares supports a diverse group of organizations that share a mission to help individuals in need, from disadvantaged youth, educational programs, veterans and those affected by natural disasters. This year’s honorees represented the best in their respective fields, both on and off the playing field.

The program, which was emceed by Mets radio announcer Wayne Randazzo and Onesti Entertainment President Ron Onesti, was filled with inspirational speeches, along with entertainment by John Vincent, resident anthem singer for the Chicago Cubs and Ditka’s Chicago. Also on hand were former inductees Tommy Lasorda, Tony DeMarco, Dan Pastorini, Ray Mancini, Jean Lenti Ponsetto, Doug Bruno and Frank Lentine.

Founded on the values of family, friends, faith and community, the NIASHF was once again proud of its longtime partnership with and support of the Crushers Club Organization, whose mission is to be the strongest alternative to gangs for Chicago youth. Most recently, the NIASHF has gotten behind an organization founded and run by middle- and high-school students. The Birthday Giving Program is a 501(c)3 organization that delivers birthday bags to disadvantaged youth and adults.

Article provided by the National Italian American Foundation.

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