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Easter Seals therapist and child playing together

2012 Playing for Today Gala a Grand Slam
for Easter Seals New York!

Hosted in the Yankee Stadium Legends Suite Club Thursday, May 3rd, Easter Seals New York’s Playing for Today Gala was one of the most memorable evenings of the year! More than 240 supporters attended the highly successful event, which was the very first half a million dollar gala for Easter Seals New York. 

The event honored those who exemplify hope through their invaluable dedication to the Easter Seals New York mission and who have significantly impacted the lives of individuals with disabilities or special needs.  Tanios Viviani, Regional President of the Americas for Amway received the organization’s highest honor, the Lilli and Allan Shedlin Award. Amway has been a dear friend and corporate sponsor of Easter Seals for 29 years, and its Independent Business Owners have raised more than $32 million dollars for children and adults with disabilities or special needs. A new member of the Amway family, Tanios’ personal generosity, altruism, and philanthropic efforts made him most deserving of Easter Seals New York’s highest honor.

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The presentation of the 2012 Lilli and Allan Shedlin Award to Tanios Viviani. Amway and New York City Regional Boards: Kshitija Kalavapalli, Anjali Desai, Kavan Desai,Neil Gala, Russell Wohl, and Shivaram Kumar of New York City, State Chairman Joe DiChiara, Easter Seals CEO Jim Williams, Lou Lowenkron, former National Chairman, Kankan Bhattacharyya, Kulin Desai of Amway, State Board: Dr. Kanti Gala, Heather Mills, Aris S. Pavlides, Tanios Viviani, 2011 Shedlin Award Recipient Angelo Nardone, Jeff Amanna of Coastal Fairfield County Board and Amway, John W. McGrath, Executive Director of Advancement Easter Seals New York.

Easter Seals New York honored Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott of the New York City Department of Education on Thursday evening with the Edgar F. Allen Political Service Award. Chancellor Walcott has been a strong advocate for equal educational opportunities for all children, regardless of socio-economic status or ability. Nigel Pugh, Director of Professional Leadership for Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners, accepted the award on Chancellor Walcott’s behalf, as he was unable to attend.

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John W. McGrath, Nigel Pugh, Director of Professional Leadership, NYC Department of Education, Stanley Kalmon Schlein, Esq., Vice Chairman New York State Board.

The evening also recognized the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative Association, Inc. with the Outstanding Citizenship Award. While previous members of the Cooperative Association have been honored in the past, it was very special this year to recognize the efforts of the entire Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative Association, Inc. for their incredible generosity towards the children of the Bronx Child Development Center, and the entire Hunts Point community. Stephen Katzman of S. Katzman Produce and Joe Palumbo of Top Banana accepted the award as board members and representatives of the Cooperative Association, Inc.

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Aris S. Pavlides, Development Chair New York State Board, Myra G. Gordon, 2007 Outstanding Citizenship Award Recipient, Joe Palumbo, CEO Top Banana and Stephen Katzman, CEO of S. Katzman Produce as representatives of 2012 Outstanding Citizenship Award Recipient Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative Association, Inc., Heather Mills, 2010 Lilli and Allan Shedlin Award Recipient & New York State Board, Stanley Kalmon Schlein, Esq.,2008 Outstanding Citizenship Award Recipient & Vice Chairman New York State Board, Mario Andreani, 2010 Outstanding Citizenship Award Recipient.

Chairman of the New York City Regional Board and Vice Chairman of the State Board Stanley Kalmon Schlein presented Nigel Pugh with the Edgar F. Allen Political Service Award on behalf of Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott. Chairman of the State Board, Joe DiChiara, gave the Chairman’s Address. Past Lilli and Allan Shedlin Awardee and Board Member Heather Mills presented Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative Association, Inc. with the Outstanding Citizenship Award, with previous recipients Myra Gordon, Mario Andreani, and Stanley Kalmon Schlein on stage for the presentation. Easter Seals President and CEO Jim Williams presented Tanios Viviani with the Lilli and Allan Shedlin Award to a packed stage, including previous recipients Lou Lowenkron/ Joe DiChiara of Entergy; Dr. Kanti Gala, Shivaram Kumar, Kankan Bhattacharyya, and Kulin Desai of We Live to Give Foundation; Heather Mills, and Angelo Nardone, as well as Amway board members Neil Gala, Kavan Desai, Anjali Desai, Kshitija Kalavapalli, Russell Wohl, and Jeff Amanna.

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Easter Seals New York State and Regional Board Members, along with children from the Bronx Child Development Center.

After the awards were concluded, YES Network anchor and host and New York City Regional of Yankees Batting Practice Today show Chris Shearn served as our live auctioneer, keeping the competition lively and fun. Board Member and State Development Chair Aris Pavlides ended the evening with raffles and closing remarks.

Easter Seals New York is so grateful to our numerous dedicated supporters. We greatly appreciate your tremendous presence and championship. We look forward to celebrating with you at our 2013 gala! Click here to see more amazing photos from the night! In addition photos, Nancy Newman of the YES Network and Yankees Magazine shot an exclusive piece on the Gala that aired on the YES Network May 9th through the 13th. The video includes some great interviews with board members and honorees, and is a beautiful snapshot of this memorable evening. Check it out here!

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Special Ambassador Hailey leads her classmates from the Bronx Child Development Center in a song!


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Jori Hartwig, Amway; and Tanios Viviani, 2012 Lilli and Allan Shedlin Award Recipient, Amway; Dr. Kanti Gala, Kulin Desai, Shivaram Kumar, Kankan Bhattacharyya, We Live to Give Foundation & Amway.

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New York City Regional Vice Chairman Neil Gala and his son Saahil.















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