Tukaiz LLC has announced that Frank Defino, Sr., founder, chairman, and CEO, was named Sportsman of the Year by The National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame (NIASHF). The honor is part of its 2013 Sportsman and Athlete of the Year Awards. The prestigious award was presented to him in recognition of his contributions as a benefactor to NIASHF for over 35 years, outstanding service to the community and his strong support of several charitable and civic initiatives. To honor this momentous achievement, the Chicago Cubs invited Defino to throw out the first pitch at the June 12 game against Cincinnati at Wrigley Field.
“Frank is the embodiment of what our Sportsman of the Year Award is all about. His dedication to his family, his friends, this organization and the many community initiatives and programs he and his family support are unmatched,” said George Randazzo, president and founder of NIASHF. “I, and everyone associated with the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, can think of no one more deserving of this honor than Frank.”
NIASHF has started programs to support athletes everywhere. The Second Wind initiative provides support for disabled athletes who compete in the Paralympics. More than $500 thousand in grants have been provided. A Level Playing Field is an inner city youth outreach program designed to promote diversity in sports and teach children about the rich cultural backgrounds of famous athletes. NIASHF has also awarded $6 million in grants to students and youth athletes of all backgrounds.
“It’s an honor and privilege to be recognized by an organization that believes in the importance of guiding and supporting our community and its youth,” said Defino. “George Randazzo is a close friend and I greatly admire him for founding an organization that fully reflects his values of family, friends, faith, and community.”
Defino joins two notable Chicago sports figures that are also being honored. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs first baseman, received the NIASHF Athlete of the Year award and Mike Adamle, sports anchor at NBC 5 Chicago, was given the Dominic DiFrisco Media Excellence Award. Past inductees into the Hall of Fame include Mario Andretti, Joe DiMaggio, Edward DeBartolo Jr., John Cappelletti and Harry Caray.