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World Trade Centers Day was a grand celebration

May 24, 2019

It poured for days before our biggest event of the year, but on May 15, the sun shined its light over historic Fairmount Waterworks in Philadelphia and our 2019 World Trade Centers Day honorees. The stage was set, videos cued, food and bar stations opened, and we were ready to celebrate. See photos

Ian Bush, broadcaster, KYW 1060 Newsradio, opened the Award Program with his recollection of 9/11 and the significance of why each year the WTCGP pays homage to those individuals and organizations who define our mission. After introducing President Linda Conlin and Board Chairman Gary Biehn, the Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble played Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want).” Conlin, laughing, reminded the over 250 people in attendance, that yes, it was their only fundraiser of the year and thanked all of the sponsors, especially title sponsor, Independence Blue Cross. Chairman Biehn reminded the audience of the work that the WTCGP does, including signing an MOU with Tianjin China, and how the dollars raised will help WTCGP increase global trade for the Greater Philadelphia region.

Family, friends and the who’s who of the Greater Philadelphia business community listened attentively as Ian Bush cued up each of the Tribute Videos. The jazz band played Michael Jackson’s “Got Me Working Day and Night” as Phenom People’s Keca Ward, Sr. Director Talent Acquisition and Mohan Gunti, VP Technical Operations were handed the award for the inaugural Drexel University Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship Award by Dean Donna DeCarolis.

Bachman Turner Overdrive’s “Taking Care of Business,” was the walk-up/down music for the family business, Sandmeyer Steel Company, who received the Member Company of the Year Award. On stage to accept the award for the almost 70-year-old company, were Ronald P. Sandmeyer, Jr., President and CEO, Rodney C. Sandmeyer, Executive Vice President, John M. Curley, III, Vice President International Sales and Global Marketing, and R. Paul Sandmeyer, III, Manager, National Inside Sales and Materials Procurement. Ronald Sandmeyer thanked the audience and gave a special shout to Walt D’Alessio who was instrumental in helping Sandmeyer secure funding for its facility in Northeast Philadelphia. Sandmeyer had never exported until they met with WTCGP in 2007.

Tony Rastelli, President and his son, Vice President, Anthony Rastelli accepted the Global Business Leadership Award following the music of Motown’s, “Get Ready.” With a majority of their exports to the Middle East, Rastelli spoke of his fearless determination to get high quality food into the hands of US military and people who appreciate his family’s commitment to quality.

Dan Hilferty, CEO Independence Health Group thanked the band for playing “Peter Gunn,” and set the tone for the evening’s grand finale by saying, “If we need an example to follow in doing more, I am here to honor the perfect role model. Walt D’Alessio is a mentor, a colleague, and a dear friend.”

The tribute video to founding WTCGP board member Walt D’Alessio, winner of the Legacy Award for Lifetime Achievement, featured colleagues who reminisced on how D’Alessio’s 50 years of work and vision helped improve the infrastructure and neighborhoods of Philadelphia. D’Alessio, known to many for being humble and funny is revered for growing not only the city of Philadelphia but also executive careers.

Before inviting D’Alessio to the stage, Dan Hilferty, added, “Walt’s goal has always been to build something lasting that improves people’s lives. That’s the driving force behind his 17 year commitment to the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia and probably a hundred other projects that those of us in this room have worked on with Walt.”

The audience rose to their feet for a standing ovation, while the band played “Theme from Superman.” As soon as D’Alessio made his way to the stage, he immediately redirected the attention from himself by saying it was his wife Barbara’s birthday, and the evening was her birthday party.