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Philanthropist & Restaurateur, Russell Salvatore, to Lead this Year's Suneel’s Light Celebrity Gala | Community Spirit

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Philanthropist & Restaurateur, Russell Salvatore, to Lead this Year's Suneel’s Light Celebrity Gala
Philanthropist & Restaurateur, Russell Salvatore, to Lead this Year's Suneel’s Light Celebrity Gala

Suneel’s Light, a Western New York non-profit foundation with the mission of raising funds for research that will lead to a cure of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) and to increase public awareness of the genetic disease, has announced that local philanthropist and nationally renowned restaurateur, Russell Salvatore will serve as the 2016 Honorary Chairman of Suneel’s Celebrity Gala, the Foundation’s annual “Dancing with the Stars” inspired fundraiser. 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, Esq. Niagara County Assistant District Attorney were also named Event Chairs. Funds raised by Suneel’s Celebrity Gala in Buffalo help this local non-profit foundation support critical research for treatments in search of a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a lethal genetic childhood disease. 

As one of Western New York’s most established local restauranteurs and businessmen, who is known throughout the region for his philanthropy and owner of Russell’s Steaks, Chops & More, Mr. Salvatore will bring added visibility and leadership to Suneel’s Celebrity Gala. Winner of the Association of the Western New York Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Outstanding Philanthropist Award in 2015, he was recognized for his significant and profound impact on the community. By taking on this newest leadership role, Mr. Salvatore continues his proven track record of generosity by adding Suneel’s Light Foundation to the list of dozens of local charities that he already 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. “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.”

Mr. Vito, will also lend his expertise and leadership to this important community event. As head of one of the top investigative firms in the area and by utilizing his law enforcement, casualty adjustment and corporate investigative experience, Peter knows how to get things done. His resume runs the gamut of police work for over 40 years, in addition to the many successful businesses that he has founded and led along the way. He, too, has a lengthy career of commitment to the community, including serving as 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,” said Vito. “We must continue our efforts to raise the awareness and funding needed to fight this devastating disease.”

Tragically, children born with DMD succumb to the genetic disease by their early twenties. Typically during their school-age years, in conjunction with all of the other problems surrounding this 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 on Saturday, October 29, 2016 from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. in the elegant Salvatore’s Italian Gardens. Tickets for Suneel’s Celebrity Gala are available at www.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, 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.”

Established in 2002, Suneel's Light is a charitable foundation whose namesake is a teenage boy who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). The Foundation was established to fund critical research for treatments and a cure for DMD, which targets young boys, without regard to ethnicity, and leads to death from respiratory or heart failure by their early 20's, making it the most lethal genetic childhood disease known. Without a breakthrough in ongoing medical research and treatment, there is little hope that Suneel, and other children like him, will live to adulthood. For more information about Suneel’s Light Foundation or DMD, please visit www.suneelslight.org, Facebook.com/suneelslight or call 716-243-0882.



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