NEW YORK – The Hellenic Medical Society of New York (HMSNY) held its 83rd annual Scholarship Gala at the JW Marriott Essex House, the historic Art Deco hotel in Manhattan, on November 30. The event promotes biomedical research through scholarships given annually to top students in medical School as well as to young researchers to continue their work.
A very promising element at the annual gathering was the growing presence of young Greek medical students and young doctors, who filled the beautiful Essex House ballroom. The elder veterans in the medical profession support and fight for the HMSNY and the young scientists who will succeed them and continue their important work.
HMSNY President, Dr. Panagiotis Manolas, said, “We are trying to do what every person who wants to help his fellow man would do. We have raised $34,000 this year mainly from donations from members, primarily from our association, and have given it to deserving young people who need help with the costs they incur in medical schools.”
Dr. George Tsioulias, HMSNY former president in 2010, is clearly optimistic about the "new blood" joining the HMSNY said, “I see many new faces, new people. The new generation starts and enters the club with excitement, taking the reins, and I'm very happy about it.”
Along with the 15 award-winning students, Dr. Constantinos G. Hadjipanayis, Professor and Director of the Department of Neurosurgery and Oncology at Mount Sinai, was honored as this year’s Distinguished Physician, while the Distinguished Colleague award went to Dr. John Xethalis, an orthopedic surgeon with 50 years of practice and distinguished clientele, including soccer legend Pele, and many others. Dr. Xethalis was the team physician of the New York Cosmos team, which included Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, and Giorgio Chinaglia. Dr. Ariadna Papageorge, practicing otolaryngology at Lenox Hill and assistant professor at Weill Cornell School of Medicine, was also honored with the Distinguished Colleague award.
Finally, Angeliki Frangou, the CEO of global shipping consortium Navios Group, a fifth generation shipowner with entrepreneurial vision and innovative ideas, was honored as this year’s Distinguished Hellene.
We asked Frangou to what she attributes her success, and she responded with modesty, “Everyone works equally hard at the HMSNY, which has been promoting Greek culture, our heritage, and medical education for 83 years, supporting Greek young people, and providing scholarships.”
For the renowned oncologist Dr. George Raptis the evening was very special, He said, “so many doctors, teachers, and colleagues come from various disciplines in the medical field and are members of the Hellenic Medical Society of New York, all of whom are conscious Greeks, expanding relationships and collaborations to support young people who want to study medicine or have already started their studies.”
Dr. Manolas gave the welcoming remarks at the event and presentations were also made by sisters and ophthalmologists Dr. Aspasia Draga and Dr. Irene Draga, Dr. Lorraine Chrisomalis, Dr. Sotiris Stergiopoulos, Dr. Miranda Kofinas, Dr. Demetrios Markouizos, and past HMSNY president Dr. George Liakeas.
There were many moving moments during the acceptance speeches. Each of the honorees noted the duty of all physicians to honor their science and to promote new doctors. They all expressed their thanks to the HMSNY for the special honor they were given.
Dr. Xethalis, referred to a life consisting of 50 years of hard work, the support of his wife, who has stood by him for 46 years, and how honored he felt to receive the recognition of the HMSNY. He was visibly moved by the honor and had to pause briefly during his speech as warm applause filled the room. Dr. Papageorge referred to the dedication of the HMSNY members and to her personal accomplishments, while Dr. Hadjipanayis spoke about the vital support of his parents and family.
The music was performed by Spiros Cardamis, “this time not as a maestro, but as my daughter Olympia's pianist,” he told The National Herald. Vocalist Olympia Milonas, along with Panos Savoulides, entertained the audience with popular tunes, traditional songs, and folk songs which kept the crowd on the dance floor all night.
Among the long list of distinguished guests present were the Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, past HMSNY president Dr. George Dangas, Dr. Helen Gouzoulis, Dr. George Cofizis, Dr. George Kofinas and his wife Dr. Miranda, Dr. Michael Zervos, Dr. Markos Koutsos, Dr. Michael Plakogiannis, and many other distinguished scientists.