DEPTFORD, NJ – On September 25, AHEPA District 5 went to the southern end of the district for a special event. After a long hiatus on social gatherings, the Cherry Hill chapter hosted a crowd of 150 plus from all over New Jersey as well as from neighboring districts in what it called its "AHEPA Lollapalooza." The event was designed to honor the two most recent past district governors, last year's George N. Pappas and the prior year's Steve Marmarou as well as the past two District Ahepans of the Year, Burlington County Sheriff Anthony Basantis and Dr. Elias Iliades.
The event was at the Adelphia Restaurant in Deptford, NJ. The Master of Ceremonies was Chapter President Cosmas Diamantis, who admirably melded a program of four events postponed due to the pandemic into one event.
Left to right: AHEPA Past Supreme President George Horiates, honoree Anthony Basantis, and Cosmas Diamantis. Photo: Steve Lambrou
In addition to the honorees, the attendees enjoyed comments from AHEPA Past Supreme President (PSP) George Horiates, who introduced the Maids of Athena Grand President Maria Ann Pantelous. The chapter made presentations of funds raised during the pandemic to the Maids of Athena, the AHEPA Fifth District Cancer foundation as well as the Saint Thomas Hellenic Afternoon School for technology improvements in the post-pandemic era. In addition to the Grand President of the Maids of Athena, the event also recognized AHEPA Supreme Secretary Savas Tsivicos and Supreme Governor of Region 3 Vassos Chrysanthou.
Left to right: AHEPA District 5 Past Governor and honoree Steve Marmarou, Louis Stefanou, current District Governor Bob Fourniadis, and PDG and honoree George Pappas. Photo: Steve Lambrou
As for the past two District 5 Ahepans of the Year, Dr. Elias Iliades, a cardiologist serving Cooper Hospital was the honoree from two years ago. He was on the front line of the pandemic and was featured in the national Ahepan publication under the "AHEPA Cares" section, which was AHEPA's response to the pandemic. John Pratsinakis, a member of the Cherry Hill community, spoke on behalf of Dr Iliades. In a heartwarming tribute, he stated how he was one of the first to be hospitalized with COVID, surviving months of intensive care, all under the care of Dr. Iliades.
Left to right: Taso Malapetsis, John Patouhas, Cosmas Diamantis, Maria Ana Pantelous, and Kosta Vrontis. Photo: Steve Lambrou
Next up was recognition of this year's District Ahepan of the Year, Burlington County Sheriff Anthony Basantis. In response to last summer's social unrest, AHEPA created the AHEPA Heroes Medal, honoring police and community leaders at the front lines of assisting our society. A Heroes Medal recipient, Sheriff Basantis created significant outreach programs in the community in the largest geographic county in New Jersey. He also participated in AHEPA's celebration in neighboring Philadelphia, participating in AHEPA's Greek Bicentennial celebration at Fort Mifflin. Both honorees gave appreciative responses on the impact of AHEPA in the community.
Left to right: George Pappas, Bob Fourniadis, and Steve Marmarou. Photo: Steve Lambrou
The evening highlight was having both of the last two District 5 governors, Steve Marmarou and George N. Pappas, on the same stage. They were both applauded for assisting the district during these difficult times. Current District Governor Bob Fourniades of Holmdel, NJ presented both with past district governor jewels and Lee Millas of Trenton made a special presentation as well on behalf of all past district governors, welcoming both of them into the pantheon of past district governors. Ahepans from around the area came forward to honor Marmarou and Pappas, from PSP Andrew Zachariades to Daughters District Governor Dina Fanikos and a special speech on today's changed society from Federation president and Past AHEPA District Governor Jim Rozanitis. Both Marmarou and Pappas centered their remarks on the ever changing world they were faced with and thanked the members for helping to chart a course for the district's future. PSP George Horiates summed up the service of the honorees, stating "their efforts showed that AHEPA's principles could not be quarantined during the pandemic."
AHEPA Past Supreme Presidents George Horiates and Andrew Zachariades, District 5 Past Governors and honorees posed for a commemorative photo at the event on September 25. Photo: Steve Lambrou