Weekly Feature



2016-10-06 / Business

WNY leaders to serve as chairs for Suneel’s 2016 Celebrity Gala


Russell Salvatore was selected as an honorary chairman for this year’s Suneel Gala. Russell Salvatore was selected as an honorary chairman for this year’s Suneel Gala. Local philanthropist and nationally renowned restaurateur Russell Salvatore will serve as the 2016 honorary chairman of Suneel’s Celebrity Gala, the annual “Dancing with the Stars”-inspired fundraiser of Suneel’s Light Foundation.

Peter M. Vito, retired commissioner of Erie County Central Police Services and chairman and CEO of Peter M. Vito & Associates Inc., and his wife, Elizabeth R. Donatello, Niagara County assistant district attorney, were also named event chairs.

Funds raised by Suneel’s Celebrity Gala in Buffalo help the local nonprofit foundation support critical research for treatments in search of a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a lethal genetic childhood disease.

Salvatore is one of Western New York’s most established restaurateurs and businessmen, known throughout the region for his philanthropy and owner of Russell’s Steaks, Chops & More.

Winner of the Association of the Western New York Fundraising Professionals Outstanding Philanthropist Award in 2015, he was recognized for his significant and profound impact on the community.

He has now added Suneel’s Light Foundation to the local charities he supports.

“I’m honored to be serving as the 2016 Honorary Chair for Suneel’s Celebrity Gala because I believe our children’s health is a top priority,” said Salvatore in a press release.

“I’m asking every business and the community at large to join me by purchasing tickets or donating to this important cause. This event gives us a unique opportunity to provide an entertaining event, while helping the Suneel’s Light Foundation in its important mission.”

Vito will also lend his expertise and leadership to the event.

He heads an area investigative firm, and his resume includes police work for more than 40 years.

He is also a longtime member of the Suneel’s Light Foundation board of directors, as well as other community focused boards.

“Currently, more than 20,000 children in the United States suffer from this fatal disease, and more than 100,000 worldwide, with a statistically higher number of identified cases in Western New York than the national average, and that’s just not acceptable,” Vito said in the release.

“We must continue our efforts to raise the awareness and funding needed to fight this devastating disease.”

Children born with DMD succumb to the genetic disease by their early 20s. Typically during their school-age years, in conjunction with all of the other problems surrounding the disease, they suffer from learning disabilities, social isolation and behavioral issues.

The fourth annual Suneel’s Celebrity Gala, which will feature local celebrities competing in various ballroom dance disciplines, will be held from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens.

To purchase tickets for Suneel’s Celebrity Gala or learn more about Suneel’s mission, visit suneelslight.org.

“Our board could not be happier or honored to have these two well-known community champions at the helm of Suneel’s Celebrity Gala,” said Ken Manning, president of Suneel’s Light Foundation and partner at Phillips Lytle LLP.

“I am sure they will each bring the same drive, dedication and passion that made them both such well-respected members of our community to Suneel’s Celebrity Gala. I know their collective contribution will help create a perfect formula for success at this year’s event.”

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