Shared directly from the NIAF Website:
(Washington D.C. – June 18, 2019) On June 17, the New York Golf Kick Off Reception hosted the legendary race-car driver Mario Andretti who presented a National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) scholarship to Trevor Tesoriero at the Classic Car Club in New York, N.Y. Shiny luxury race cars and vintage classics dazzled guests as they enjoyed cocktails and views of the Jersey City skyline on the Hudson River through the industrial floor-to-ceiling warehouse windows.
Christopher Macchio from the New York Tenors started the program with his moving renditions of the Italian and U.S. national anthems.
The evening’s host, NIAF Board Member and Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker Partner Nicholas Caiazzo, welcomed guests, and connected NIAF’s mission to empower young Italian Americans through its robust scholarships program to the evening’s purpose. He later conducted an insightful Q&A session with Andretti on stage.
Andretti credited his father for helping the family come to America to find a better life for themselves. Born to Italian parents in Montona (now part of Croatia), Andretti’s family of five fled their town during World War II and lived in a refugee camp in Lucca, Italy, from 1948–1955, until they secured visas to come to America. “My career wouldn’t have been what it was if we stayed in Italy,” he said.
Andretti’s extraordinary immigrant story includes his successful six-decade racing career in which he won 109 races on major circuits as well as four IndyCar races in four different decades—the only race-car driver to accomplish that. Recently, national media has spotlighted Andretti for the 50th anniversary of his 1969 win at the Indianapolis 500, and the release of his documentary about his early years in Italy, and journey and challenges coming to America.
Caiazzo asked Andretti if he was ever surprised by the impact his career has had on race-car driving and the world, making his name synonymous with speed, and securing his legacy in the Automotive Hall of Fame. Andretti replied, “If you’re enjoying your life, every second of it, you’re humbled to be recognized for it…. I loved the sport so much that there was never a plan B.”
After the interview, Caiazzo invited NIAF scholarship recipient Trevor Tesoriero to the stage. The graduate student studying mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shared his gratitude for the sacrifices his grandparents made coming from Italy to the United States in the 1950s, and for his father, a mechanic, who inspired him to make the most of his opportunities. He thanked NIAF for the generous scholarship to help him pursue his studies. After Andretti presented Tesoriero with the scholarship certificate, the program ended with guests mingling and enjoying creamy cavatelli, meats and cheeses, and other Italian favorites.
The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to preserving, promoting and protecting the Italian American heritage and culture. To learn more about the Foundation and become a member, please visit http://www.niaf.org.