Excellence in Leadership: An Event of Inspiration

Joseph Beaird, Staff Writer

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Servite’s annual Excellence In Leadership Dinner took place on March 5th. The leaders who were recognized left a profound impact on the audience of 550 alumni, parents and other community friends.

Dennis Kuhl, a down-to-earth businessman, was recognized with the National Leadership Award. Although he may be a businessman, his morals are put before anything else. He has organized and participated in significant charity work throughout Southern California.

In November of 2003, Dennis Kuhl began working for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He now serves as Chairman of the Angels. While working with the Angels, he found and ran multiple charity events. He created the Bud Kuhl Wood Bat Invitational in honor of his father to support the University of Arizona Scholarship Fund. He is also president of Light Up the Night, which benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma society.

Servite has ties to him in unexpected ways. Our Servite Key Club often participates in Light Up The Night. The Servite Baseball team volunteers at the Challenger Games.

Mr. Kuhl focused his speech on what it meant to be a leader, by making connections to his life. For example, he mentioned that he would have no idea where he would be today without meeting Artie Moreno, owner of the Angels. Artie Moreno became a friend he met while attending the University of Arizona.

Dennis Kuhl’s speech was short but enticing. Filling the audience with joyous laughs, Mr. Kuhl displayed his down to earth side. He continued to keep the audience interested and left all attendants with more knowledge than they had arrived at the dinner.

Our Servite brother, Chris Lembo ’16, represented Priory and gave an outstanding speech. He exposed the audience to the importance and purpose of Priory. Chris told the story of how Priory has formed him into the leader he is today.

Chris Weir ‘97 gave his opinion of Chris Lembo’s speech. “Chris Lembo knocked it out of the park,” he said. “His candor made a significant impact on the audience, and his articulation of the essence of the Priory Leadership Program helped many of the alumni and community members in attendance gain a greater appreciation for the uniqueness of what we’ve been up to for the past decade. He nailed it.”

The third speaker was Bruno Serato, distinguished community servant of Italian heritage. When he came to the U.S., Mr. Serato only had 200 dollars to his name; he eventually worked to become owner of the Anaheim White House, one of the most widely respected culinary establishments in the world. Because of his faith and passion, Bruno Serato is the successful man he is today.

        Mr. Serato was convinced that his help was needed elsewhere. After viewing the harsh conditions that “motel kids” of Anaheim were living under, he knew how he could help; alongside his mother, he created Caterina’s Club to support underprivileged children with pasta meals. Caterina’s Club now serves meals to over 1,200 kids each day, and has served over 1 million meals since 2005.

        The Excellence In Leadership Dinner is not the only place that Mr. Serato’s honorable nature has been recognized. CNN honored him with the Hero Award presented by Jerry Seinfeld. He even has been awarded Silver Medal San Martino Award by the Italian government and the Pope John XXIII Award from the Italian Catholic Federation.

        Bruno Serato’s speech touched everyone in attendance and taught the lesson that service never goes without reward. Through his early struggles from being poor, to working to make sure children would have meals, all of his work has paid off. He is nationally and globally recognized as a hero.

        The Faley Family were the last honorees of the night. The Faley’s have had an enormous impact on the Servite community and Orange County through their annual Faley Games. Last year, they lost their father and grandfather, Jack Faley. His name has been commemorated by being added to the event’s title, which is now called the Jack and Kathleen Faley Memorial Games.

        Mike Faley ‘75 commented on his family’s recognition. “When we received  the 2016  Distinguished   Alumni Award,  my  brother’s Tim ‘80, Terry ‘81, Dan ‘82,  Jim “Moose” ‘83 and sisters Tricia, Rosary ‘74 and MaryAnn, Rosary ‘86,  all  felt  extremely proud to be recognized by the Servite Community.” The Faley Family’s mother Kay Faley commented that she “will always treasure and appreciate our Servite Family and know they will forever be a part of our lives.”

        The purpose of the Faley Games is nothing but honorable. Each year, around 2,500 special needs athletes participate in the events of the Faley Games, alongside 5,000 volunteers. The family’s efforts have allowed the Games to grow from a small event of just 90 athletes and 90 volunteers at Servite, to what it is now being held at Cal State Fullerton University.

        The Excellence In Leadership Dinner always chooses outstanding people to honor. This year was no exception. Dennis Kuhl, Bruno Serato, and the Faley Family have all contributed so much to the Servite Community, Orange County and our nation, and left an impact on us all. We have much to learn from their grace and kindness.

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