Xaverian president Sal Ferrera has spearheaded the gala since its inception in 1997, which has included such previous recipients as international statesman Dr. Henry Kissinger, Maestro Luciano Pavarotti, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, television personality Regis Philbin, singer/songwriter Paul Simon, and Sopranos star James Gandolfini. Distinguished Xaverian alumnus Dr. Rock Positano is the founder and dinner chair.
Esiason has become a leading national figure in the fight against cystic fibrosis. When his son, Gunnar, was diagnosed with the disease 13 years ago, he and his wife, Cheryl, established the Boomer Esiason Foundation. To date, the foundation has raised approximately $50 million to battle cystic fibrosis. Boomer was a veteran quarterback of 14 years with the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals (1984-1997). In 1989 he was the NFL's MVP. Boomer is currently a radio analyst with Marv Albert and John Dockery for CBS Sports/Westwood One's coverage of the NFL's Monday Night Football games; a television analyst for CBS Sports' The NFL Today; and host of Madison Square Garden's Boomer Esiason Show.
Bello is the Chairman and CEO of Soup Kitchen International, the company that markets the soups of Al Yeganeh, who inspired the "Soup Episode" on Seinfeld. Mr. Bello is also the CEO of Firefighter Brands, a food and beverage company he founded in 2003, which shares profits with firefighter related worthy causes and activities through the company's Firefighter Brand Foundation. He is the founder and former CEO of South Beach Beverage Company, the maker of nutritionally enhanced teas and juices marketed under the brand name SoBe. PepsiCo purchased the company, established in 1995, in 2001 for $370 million.
Xaverian's RYKEN program assists students with learning disabilities, and the gala will also aid academically gifted but financially disadvantaged students.
Xaverian offers the very best in secondary education, not only in New York City, but the entire state. Xaverian serves students from disadvantaged backgrounds with learning disabilities as well as those that are in financial need. In fact, if it weren't for the generosity of alumni, parents and friends, many of these students would not be able to afford the quality, college preparatory education offered by Xaverian. At Xaverian, approximately 10 percent of the enrollment includes students with learning difficulties as measured by Federal Law. At Xaverien, 25 percent of students receive financial assistance. The charisma of Theodore Ryken, founder of the Xaverian brothers, is well established in this mission to serve those in need. Proceeds of this night are shared for the greater good. Xaverian has taught the best in Brooklyn since 1957, taking the role from its predecessor, St. Michael's Diocesan High School. Xaverian's enrollment is approximately 1,400 students. While Catholic in origin, Xaverian is open to students of every race, religion, and ethnic origin.