Spotlight

Rock icon Dion DiMucci

One of the last great performers from the golden age of rock ’n’ roll, Dion DiMucci has recaptured the spotlight by embracing his musical roots. Dion DiMucci is a living legend known worldwide for hits that span decades and generations, like “Teenager in Love,” “Runaround Sue,” “The Wanderer” and “Abraham, Martin and John.” One of the last great performers from the golden age of rock ’n’ roll, DiMucci is still playing and recording at age 82. On his most recent release, “Stomping Ground,” the rock hall of famer is joined by Bruce Springsteen, Joe Bonamassa, Peter Frampton, Mark Knopfler, Billy …

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Autism pioneer Dr. Valerie Scaramella-Nowinski

Raised to value service above self, Dr. Valerie Scaramella-Nowinski has dramatically improved the lives of countless children on the autism spectrum. For parents of children on the autism spectrum, and those impacted by similar developmental disorders, the worst four words you can hear are “don’t expect too much.” So much of the uncertainty facing these families is owed to the broad nature of autism. It’s not a single, uniform disorder, but rather an umbrella diagnosis comprising a range of conditions affecting speech, the sensory system and social interactions. Some neurodiverse children may have a small communications delay compared to their …

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National leader Basil Russo

A fierce advocate on behalf of his heritage for decades, Basil Russo has undertaken the Garibaldian task of uniting the community on a national level. Basil Russo was watching the ballgame on TV with his immigrant grandfather when Cleveland Indians slugger Rocky Colavito hit his record-tying fourth consecutive home run against the Baltimore Orioles on June 10, 1959. Russo was only 12 at the time, but that moment is forever etched in his memory. “My ‘nonnu’ was a tough, old Sicilian who rarely showed much emotion, but there he was with tears of joy running down his face,” Russo recalls. …

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Consul General Thomas Botzios

With a notable diplomatic pedigree and multinational roots, Thomas Botzios brings a global perspective to his role as the Midwest’s new Italian consul general. If anyone was born to be a diplomat, it’s Thomas Botzios. The Midwest’s new Italian consul general pursued the same career path as his father and uncle, Elias and Christos Botzios, both of whom served in the Greek diplomatic corps, and was raised to view the profession as a noble one. “My father always told me that being a consul is not only a matter of diplomacy, it’s a matter of service, to be of help …

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NIAF President Robert Allegrini

A dedicated community leader and standout public relations professional with deep Chicago roots, Robert Allegrini has been tapped to helm one of the nation’s preeminent Italian-American organizations. Like many Italian-American offspring of the Greatest Generation, Robert Allegrini had to find his way back to his roots. His mother was born in Italy, as were both of his paternal grandparents. But Allegrini’s father was a decorated veteran of World War II and a patriotic American who downplayed his ethnicity both at home and in public. He went off script at a key point in his son’s life, though, and that made …

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JCCIA President Ron Onesti

Crediting the JCCIA with setting him on his life’s path, Ron Onesti is looking to return the favor as the organization’s incoming president. At awards ceremonies, it’s not uncommon for recipients to well up as they recall those who helped them earn their place at the podium. Installations of officers tend to be more stoic affairs, but there Ron Onesti was, fighting back tears as he accepted the presidency of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans at a Jan. 24 meeting at Club Arcada in St. Charles. “At that moment, it came full circle to me just how much …

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Chicago Bishop Robert Lombardo

The first Italian American to be ordained a bishop in Chicago, Fr. Bob Lombardo has served the poorest of the poor and resurrected a church close to the heart of our community. In the hush of Holy Name Cathedral, with hundreds of Catholics in attendance, the former Fr. Bob Lombardo knelt before Cardinal Blase Cupich in a Nov. 13 ceremony to receive an anointing with oil, a ring, a miter and a staff. That day, amid many joyous congratulations, Lombardo became the first Italian American, and the first Franciscan, to be ordained a bishop in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Bishop …

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“Chicago Med” star Torrey DeVitto

After years of living from project to project, Torrey DeVitto finally has a home base in one of Dick Wolf’s famously long-running series. When the hit drama “Chicago Med” returns to NBC later this year, the doctors at the fictional Gaffney Chicago Medical Center will face off against the same coronavirus pandemic their real-life counterparts have been grappling with since March. Actress Torrey DeVitto, who plays the brilliant emergency pediatrics specialist Dr. Natalie Manning, says the show won’t time jump or ignore current events. Instead, the crown jewel of executive producer Dick Wolf’s “One Chicago” franchise will embrace its creator’s …

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Local media legend Vince Gerasole

After making a name for himself spotlighting feel-good stories on local TV news, Vince Gerasole is bringing his talents and passion to bear on behalf of the Archdiocese of Chicago. A few years back, Vince Gerasole, the beloved general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago, took one of those mail-in DNA tests you see advertised on television. The Pittsburgh native, who proudly traces his ancestry to Abruzzo and Calabria, was ecstatic to discover he was 85 percent Italian, with a smattering of other European descent to round it out. Gerasole, who speaks Italian fluently and worked as a teacher and …

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“Legacies” star Danielle Rose Russell

Acting professionally since the age of 13, Danielle Rose Russell has shared the big screen with the likes of Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper on the way to a starring role on TV. Like so many others, Danielle Rose Russell is spending these socially distant days largely at home. With filming on the second season of her hit CW show “Legacies” cut short due to coronavirus lockdowns, the actress says she’s been enjoying her first extended run of free time in years. She has spent it in her native New Jersey with family and friends while awaiting a start date …

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