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SIF to Honor Bennett & Giancamilli

Sons of Italy Foundation® to honor Tony Bennett and Kmart's Andy Giancamilli at annual gala

Larry King to Serve as Master of Ceremonies, Frank Sinatra, Jr., to Perform

Contact: Diane E. Crespy, 202/547-2900

Washington, D.C., May 13, 1999 - The Sons of Italy Foundation® (SIF) will present its two most prestigious awards to two distinguished individuals in the Italian-American community, Kmart President and General Merchandise Manager Andy Giancamilli and entertainer Tony Bennett, at the 11th Annual National Education & Leadership Awards (NELA) Gala, May 22, 1999, at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

"I am extremely proud of what the NELA Gala and the Humanitarian and National Education and Leadership awards have meant to the Italian-American community. They have come to symbolize our heart-felt commitment to education and charity, and the positive effect they have on the people of the world," said SIF President Paul S. Polo.

"Also, this year we will be fortunate to be graced with the incomparable likes of Tony Bennett; Frank Sinatra, Jr., an impressive performer in his own right; Andy Giancamilli, a premier businessman in one of America's top and fastest growing companies; and certainly not least important, ten brilliant young Italian-American scholars," Polo said.

The NELA Gala, the SIF's major black-tie, $500-a-plate fund-raiser, is a significant event in the nation's capital and attracts politicians and government officials, corporate business leaders, non-profit officials, and media representatives. Last year's gala attendees included President Clinton, Steve Forbes, actor and SIF spokesperson Tony Lo Bianco, emcee Regis Philbin, The Washington Post, NBC, and numerous congressmen and senators who all joined in honoring NELA recipient Phil Guarascio, General Motors Vice President and General Manager of Marketing and Advertising, and Frank Sinatra, who was presented with the Humanitarian Award posthumously. As with previous galas, an A-list of entertainers, elected officials, and corporate executives are expected to attend this year.

Giancamilli, who has moved through the Kmart ranks from vice president of pharmacy merchandising and operations to his current position in two years, will be presented with the foundation's National Education and Leadership Award (NELA). Just prior to his service with Kmart, Giancamilli was president, COO, and director of Perry Drug Stores, Inc.

Bennett will accept the foundation's 3rd annual Humanitarian Award, following last year's NELA Gala performance and acceptance of the 2nd annual Humanitarian Award on behalf of the late Frank Sinatra. On his time off from singing and painting Bennett, an eight-time Grammy winner, frequently performs benefit concerts for organizations such as the American Cancer Society and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. So much time is devoted to these causes, explains the December 1997 issue of ARTnews, that some people have dubbed him "Tony Benefit." Bennett also contributed to the civil rights causes of the '60s, as a participant in the march on Selma, Ala.

In a fitting exchange of tribute, Frank Sinatra, Jr., and his orchestra will offer a special performance in honor of Bennett. Sinatra, who has been performing since the 1960s, released a tribute album to his father, "As I Remember It," in 1996 and is currently touring the United States and abroad. He has received rave reviews for his work, and USA Today has proclaimed, "To say the apple didn't fall far from the tree is an understatement. . ."

The Sons of Italy Foundation® was established in 1959 by the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the longest established and largest organization of Italian-American men and women, to support and develop educational, cultural, and other philanthropic programs for the benefit of all Americans. During their combined histories, the SIF and OSIA have contributed more than $28 million to education and almost $30 million to health care and medical research, disaster relief, cultural projects, and other special causes.

For more information on the Sons of Italy Foundation® or the National Education and Leadership Awards Gala, please contact Alison M. Torrillo, special projects manager, at (202) 547-3833.