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Location: Birmingham, MI, United States

Councilman John Akouri, former Washington, DC Press Secretary & Capitol Hill Advisor, is President & CEO of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Madonna University Benefit Raises Over $350,000 at the Ritz; Award Winning Television Personality John Akouri Emcees Inaugural Foundation Gala

(DEARBORN, MI) - The stars were out last night at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, as luminaries from around southeast Michigan gathered to show their support to Madonna University. 'Dress for Dinner & Celebrate' was the event theme for the academic institution's inaugural gala, seeking to raise funds for its newly embarked upon capital campaign. The evening's program and activities were led under the direction of National Association of Telecommunications Officers & Advisors (NATOA) Award-Winning Television Personality John Akouri, who served as Master of Ceremonies.
As the distinguished guests made their way to the elegant dinner joining over 400 patrons, Akouri announced each by name. Escorted by the Knights of Columbus Honor Guard, His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Vatican Ambassador to the United States, was formally welcomed by Akouri as the Holy See Prelate entered the grand ballroom. Other special guests in attendance included His Eminence Adam Cardinal Maida of Detroit and His Eminence Edmund Cardinal Szoka, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for and Governatorate of Vatican City State.
Influential Detroit business leaders in attendance included Edsel Ford II, great grandson of carmaker Henry Ford, Frank Stella, advisor to Presidents & Popes, and philanthropist Tarik Daoud, owner of Al Long Ford. Many diplomats from the city's consular corp were seen enjoying the evening including the Consul General of Lebanon Bachir Tawk, Consul General of Japan Tamotsu Shinotsuka, and Consul General of Italy Carlo Romeo. Also present at the gala was Fr. Steven Boguslawksi, executive director of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center.
Several highlights framed the spectacular evening, which included a surprise performance by the New York City Singing Waiters (with a magnificent rendition of The Three Tenor's version of Nessun Dorma), presentation of an Honorary Doctorate degree conferred upon the Papal Nuncio by University President Sr. Rose Marie Kujawa, and a video presentation featuring the story of Madonna University. The event also featured a live video interview from Los Angeles between Akouri and Christopher Coppola, of the film family dynasty which includes Francis Ford Coppola, Talia Shire, Nicholas Cage, and Sophia Coppola.
Akouri also served as the evening's auctioneer raising $30,000 - with all funds donated to the catholic University. Some of the items up for bid included Detroit Red Wings & Lions tickets, a personal golf cart, a one week stay at Everglades Waterfront Cottage in Florida, courtesy of Tom Monaghan, a Peter Max painting, and a holiday in the South of France. In all, the evening's premiere gala rasied in excess of $350,000 towards Madonna University's capital campaign goal.
Before closing out the evening's program, Akouri, from the floor of the ballroom and at the Archbishop's table, asked the Prelate to remember the staff, faculty and students of Madonna University. He then reminded the Archbishop, who prior to his appointment to Washington, DC, had spend eight years in the Holy Land, to carry on the sentiments of Pope John Paul II during his visit to Beirut in 1997 when he said: "Lebanon is more than a country, it is a message." Akouri asked Archbishop Sambi, who speaks Arabic, to keep the people of Lebanon in his prayers and hoped that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI would also carry on that message.

JOHN AKOURI ONLINE NEWSROOM 'We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not tire, or rest, until the war on terror is won.' -- PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH Add to end of above"line without paranthesis when wanting to loop sound (( loop="-1">