PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation’s Annual Gala Goes Virtual: OVER 7,000 TUNE-IN TO CELEBRATE 2020 SCHOLARS
The COVID-19 pandemic did not prevent the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation from awarding $250,000 in total scholarships to 40 college students of Hellenic descent in 2020; this year they held the entire weekend of events virtually.
The PanHellenic Alumni Weekend, June 12-13, 2020, began with a virtual Welcome Reception via Zoom for all scholars, sponsored by Elias N. Matsakis, Esq., the Foundation’s pro bono legal counsel. The Welcome Reception was an opportunity for all Scholars to get to know one another ahead of the other weekend events, and included ice-breakers, break-out rooms, and warm welcomes by Mr. Matsakis, as well as the Foundation’s three Trustees, Robert Buhler, John Manos, and Tom Sotos, who remembered the PanHellenic’s Founder, and encouraged new recipients to stay involved as they grow and develop within their careers.
On Saturday morning, over 120 current and past scholarship recipients participated in a virtual zoom Mentorship Luncheon, held in partnership with The Hellenic Initiative and generously underwritten by Nicholas W. Alexos. This intimate setting allowed scholars to receive career advice and guidance by 16 mentors who are leaders in their fields – stemming from business, law, medicine, finance, education, and more. Although recipients and mentors only shared a virtual afternoon, the goal is that these relationships continue year-round, with the majority exchanging information and keeping in touch following the annual event.
The weekend culminated with the Virtual Awards Gala to honor and celebrate the individuals at the core of the Foundations’ mission – 40 exceptional Greek American college students. The Virtual Gala was emceed by broadcast journalist Lou Canellis, and included special messages from past PanHellenic Paradigm Award Recipients James Speros, Peter Diamandis, Frances Fragos Townsend, Dean Karnazes, John Koudounis, and Matina Kolokotronis. Celebrities also joined the celebration to offer congratulations to the 2020 scholars and included Chris Chelios, Billy Zane, Michael Vlamis, Yannis Pappas a.k.a “Mr. Panos” and Coach Peter Giannakis. The Gala was kicked-off with a special message from Archibishop Elpidophoros of America, and culminated with a unique rendition of “Dynata” by Mylos entertainment of New York, inspiring everyone to strive in making the impossible, possible.
A combined total of over 7,000 people tuned-in via Facebook and YouTube to watch the streaming event – and counting. The Virtual Awards Gala was free and open to everyone, and a first for the Foundation.
Formed in 2002, the Foundation has provided over $3.5 million to over 550 students since inception and has held their Gala each June to celebrate and honor those awarded.
Though many charities have canceled their galas and events, the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation was determined to properly celebrate the achievements of the 2020 scholarship recipients. “Our goal is always to focus on our exemplary students,” said Robert A. Buhler, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Foundation. “After our Board decided we would not interrupt our tradition of awarding annual scholarships, we also took the risk of trying to create a virtual event to honor our PanHellenic Scholars. Uncertain how to proceed, and how our donors might react, we formed a Virtual Gala team comprised of several Board members, as well as several superb outside consultants.”