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Tony Bennett Performs At Italian American Gala

Press Contact: Kylie Cafiero, (202) 547-2900

Washington, D.C. - May 23, 2008 ­ Tony Bennett offered a tribute to Frank Sinatra on the 10th anniversary of the legendary singer's death and the 20th anniversary of the Sons of Italy Foundation®'s National Education and Leadership Awards (NELA) Gala. The black-tie event was held Thursday, May 22 at the historic National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

This is Bennett's fourth appearance at the NELA Gala. "I love being Italian," Bennett told the estimated 1,000 guests. "Italians have given the world so much. They should make movies about that instead of the other junk."

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Sons of Italy Foundation® (SIF) is the philanthropic arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the biggest and oldest national organization in the U.S. for men and women of Italian heritage. It was founded in 1959.

With this gala, the SIF raised in excess of $1.6 million and reached a milestone of $100 million donated over the past 49 years to scholarships, cultural preservation, medical research and international disaster relief efforts.

The gala evening began with a Celebrity Chef Tasting Reception, hosted by eight leading Italian restaurants in Washington, including Bebo's Roberto Donna; Teatro Goldoni's Enzo Fargioni; Il Mulino's Michele Mazza; and Mary Ann Esposito, host/chef of Ciao Italia, television's longest running cooking show (PBS).

Guests also bid on a silent auction featuring cruises, sports memorabilia, paintings and other luxury items. This year's gala door prize was two Alitalia round-trip tickets to Italy.

The evening's emcee, Joe Mantegna, presented the 2008 SIF scholarship winners and the 2008 honorees:

Michael Petruzzello, a partner in the Washington, DC communications firm, Qorvis;
Joseph Plumeri, chairman & CEO of the Willis Group Holdings, a risk management and insurance intermediary;
Alfred Rotondaro, a long-time Italian American activist; and
Steve Wynn, the noted Las Vegas developer, who will receive the SIF's first award for "Global Vision & Philanthropy."

About 1,000 of the nation's most prominent Italian Americans from government, business, academia, sports and entertainment attended, including U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito, actor Joe Pantoliano, Italy's Ambassador to the U.S., Giovanni Castellaneta; AIDS researcher Anthony Fauci, M.D.; Dan Glickman, president of the Motion Picture Association of America; former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta; and members of Congress, including Sen. Mike Enzi and Reps. Rosa DeLauro; John Larson; Thomas Tancredo; and Nick Lampson.