NEW YORK – The proof of the success of a children’s book author is not his profits – the proceeds of Nick Katsoris’ series, about a Loukoumi, a sweet lamb that teaches children to believe in themselves and help others benefit the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital – but in the smiles and squeals of delight of the little readers.
The event benefited the Loukoumi Make A Difference Foundation Katsoris has created “to teach kids to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.”
A cavalcade of celebrities thrilled children and adults alike at the Scholastic Theater in Soho on June 23 led by Olympia Dukakis, who read the original book to children gathered around her onstage, and there were performances by singing sensations Anna Vissi, Constantine Maroulis, Gloria “I will Survive” Gaynor and Kalomira.
The audience delighted in all the singers but when Vissi invited the children to join her onstage, one little girl in particular pirouetted and sang and danced her way into their hearts and people began to wonder about the identity of this future star that seemed to embody Loukoumi’s message that all children have talent that can blossom with care and encouragement.
When Vissi declared that she needed a Zeibekiko partner, meteorologist Nick Gregory heeded the call, followed by his FOX 5 News colleague Ernie Anastos and CBS News correspondent Alexis Christoforous, who is the original voice of Loukoumi.
Interspersed among musical performances were videos of children talking about what they hope to be when they grew up. Three of the children were chosen to appear on a Loukoumi TV special that will air on FOX stations October 19 that will show them experiencing their dream careers.
Loukoumi “teaches kids that if they work hard and believe in themselves their dreams will come true. That’s what happened to me,” Katsoris said. His own long-held dream of a Loukoumi animated cartoon has become a reality. The film version of his newest book, Loukoumi and the Schoolyard Bully, narrated by Nia Vardalis, premiered on June 23 and will appear on the TV show.
The Fall 2014 show is one of the initiatives that emerged from Katsoris’ realization that the “Make a Difference with Loukoumi,” project needed to be expanded to reach more kids.
Every October Katsoris runs a program along with Philoptochos which is part USA Weekend’s National Make a Difference Day. “Three million people go out and do various service projects. 20,000 kids last October read Loukoumi’s Good Deeds and then went out to do good deeds,” Katsoris told TNH.
After Maroulis brought the concert to a thrilling conclusion by taking “Don’t Stop Believing” into the audience, he announced that the precocious three year old was his three-year-old daughter Malena James Reed-Maroulis. “Yes, I’m in trouble,” he said.
Katsoris thanked everyone for their support through the years that has continually raised the project to higher levels, beginning with Dukakis, who was the first books on tape narrator, and who lent lend and paid the stage manager from her theater group to produce the concert.