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Panhellenic Scholarship Foundation: 2015 Awards Ceremony and Gala
This year the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation recognized 40 of the “best and brightest” Greek-American undergraduates in the nation. These exceptional individuals with notable scholastic achievements received a total of $250,000 in scholarships to continue attending some of the most prestigious universities in the United States.
Chris Tomaras’ dedication and commitment to the Foundation was proven by having a second successful Chairman’s Challenge. This year, with the support of our generous donors, the Foundation was able to raise $225,000, which will be matched dollar for dollar by Mr. Tomaras—bringing the total raised to $450,000! “I am passionate about promoting education within the context of combining knowledge with personal values, in this case our Hellenic values, so that exceptional students of Greek descent will become life-long achievers and contribute meaningfully to society. This is our mission. We run this race with them and together we will go the distance to ensure their success,” said Mr. Tomaras.
The Foundation was also excited to announce the establishment of its Endowment Fund through a significant gift from the George A. Paterakis Family. This gift of $500,000 enabled the Foundation to award two $10,000 scholarships in perpetuity, titled “The Georgia Sfondouris Mitchell Music and Arts Scholarship.” The inaugural scholarships were introduced at the Gala by Georgia Mitchell, an advisor of Mr. & Mrs. Paterakis who was instrumental in bringing this gift to the Foundation.
Executive Director, Yanni Valsamas, also addressed the award recipients emphasizing the importance of interpersonal connection versus social media, along with the value of privacy. He stressed the significance of the students helping each other by sharing ideas, connecting in person, and networking. Moreover, he spoke to the resilience of the Foundation’s Chairman, Chris Tomaras, who himself serves as a Paradigm.
2015 Paradigm Award recipient ultra-marathon man Dean Karnazes, also delivered a powerful speech acknowledging how physical fitness, as well as mental agility was stressed in Ancient Greece and should be honored by today’s generation of Greek-American youth. He mentioned the Ancient Greek philosophy, “O Tolmon Nika”, which means, “Who Dares, Wins” as a way to express the importance of perseverance and dedication to one’s dreams.
The Foundation was delighted to welcome Krystal White, actress, writer, and producer as Mistress of Ceremonies, who shared with the audience a personal favorite quote from Napoleon Hill, “Cherish your visions and your dreams, as they are the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” The Chris Sarlas Orchestra had recipients and guests celebrating on the dance floor, as they played Greek favorites and American pop classics. The evening of entertainment also made three guests very happy winners of $17,500 in cash raffle prizes: Nicholas Apostal won the 3rd cash prize of $2,500; Bill J. Vranas, 2nd prize winner of $5,000, and Steven Psihogios won the Grand Raffle prize of $10,000!
In a surprise presentation by the Foundation’s Executive Director, along with the Board of Directors, Mr. Tomaras was awarded three proclamations from the Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, the Secretary of State, Jesse White, and Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emmanuel. Each proclamation expressed gratitude to Mr. Tomaras for his commitment to education, Hellenism and philanthropy, recognizing his many untiring efforts to create life-long achievers and meaningful contributors to American society.
Among the attendees were Church and Community leaders including Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago, Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, Secretary of State Jesse White, Vice Consul General of Greece Stathis Loukopoulos, Consul General of Cyprus Michael Dovellos, President of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Chicago Mariyana Spyropoulos, Honorable Judge of the 19th Judicial Circuit Court James Booras, Executive Director & General Counsel of the Property Tax Appeal Board Louis Apostol, Supreme Vice President of AHEPA John Galanis, President of the John C. Kulis Charitable Foundation, John Kirk, and many others.
To meet all of 2015 scholarship recipients and read a summary of their biography, as well as the donors’, the Foundation’s website is panhellenicscholarships.org