The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), the leading membership-based association for the nation’s Greek-American and Philhellenes citizens, hosted its 94th Grand Banquet, the pinnacle event of the annual Supreme Convention, July 28, at The Mirage Hotel and Resort, Las Vegas. The Grand Banquet serves to honor excellence in the community as well as dedication from within the AHEPA family of organizations.
This year, the principal honoree for the 94th AHEPA Grand Banquet was Basile Katsikis, comedian, entertainer, and voice talent; who received the 2016 AHEPA Academy of Achievement Award in the Arts. Past Supreme President Ike Gulas and then Supreme President John Galanis presented him with the award, thanking “Basile the Comedian” for bringing communities together through comedy and laughter and for his charitable giving. Among the many charitable causes Basile has raised funds for is AHEPA’s Cooley’s Anemia Foundation, which is chaired by Gulas.
“Katsikis is a dedicated Hellene and Ahepan who shares AHEPA’s commitment to all facets of its mission, most notably, philanthropy,” Galanis said. “From his professional achievements to his charitable work in the community, AHEPA is thrilled to present him with this well-deserved honor. We are proud to count Mr. Katsikis as an Ahepan because he truly fulfills the organization’s mission on a daily basis.”
In addition, AHEPA family leaders offered farewell remarks, including: Supreme President Galanis, Daughters of Penelope Grand President Connie Pilallis, Sons of Pericles Supreme President Andreas Christou, and Maids of Athena Grand President Deanna Socaris. Jimmy Kokotas served as the banquet program’s Master of Ceremonies.
Past Supreme President James S. Scofield received the AHEPA Lifetime Achievement Award. In his remarks, Metropolitan Gerasimos called Scofield “a legend.” Scofield is perhaps best known for authoring the historical piece, “Forgotten History: The Klan vs. Americans of Hellenic Heritage in an Era of Hate.” Scofield wrote it on the occasion of AHEPA’s 75th anniversary, and then U.S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes entered it into the Congressional Record. Scofield served as Supreme President in 1991 when AHEPA received special recognition from the U.S. Department of Interior for raising more than $600,000 for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Past Supreme Governor and Past Supreme President of the Sons of Pericles Sandy Papadopoulos received the 2016 Ahepan of the Year Award. Papadopoulos, active in AHEPA’s athletics program, spearheaded a Pan-Pontian Youth Cultural and Folkloric Festival which culminated with a Pontian Youth Flash Mob at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park that encircled AHEPA’s “Tribute to Olympism” sculpture and received recognition from Hellenic news and blog sites.
Supreme President Galanis presented a $10,000 to International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) to support IOCC’s worthy mission to provide humanitarian aid and emergency relief around the world. Louis Zagami, development officer, IOCC, accepted the donation. During the past four years, IOCC and AHEPA have teamed-up to deliver more than $6 million in public health and medical equipment assistance to nine hospitals in Greece.