The Williamsport Rotary Club has named its 23rd annual Dinner of Champions in memory of former chairman Alan Demel, who passed away last April.
The dinner, now known as the Alan Demel Memorial Rotary Dinner of Champions, will be held June 1 at 33 East, 33 E. Third St. Cocktails will begin at 6 p.m. and dinner will be served at 7:15 p.m.
The dinner is a fundraiser to benefit the Special Olympics of Lycoming County and the autism program at the Children's Development Center, a division of Hope Enterprises Inc.
This year's event co-chairs are Jeri Demel, Alan Demel's wife, and Barbara Wascher.
Demel, who filled in for her husband as co-chair last year after his passing, said her husband had attended similar dinners when he was younger, and decided that he wanted to bring that type of event to Williamsport.
"He considered organizing this dinner one of his most important accomplishments," Demel said of her husband. "The original dinner raised funds for the MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Society. Since Alan's intent was to raise funds that remained in the local community, when the MS Society closed its local chapter, he used the dinner as a vehicle to raise money for the needs of local cancer victims and then the Special Olympics and the CDC Autism program."
After Alan's passing, the Rotary Club suggested the dinner be renamed to honor the more than two decades of hard work and heart that he put into the event.
"Our goal is, of course, to raise money for the two charities by combining athletic awareness and community dedication," Wascher said. "We have athletes come from various colleges and also coaches."
Some of the athletes who have attended the dinner in the past include Steve Palermo, Kelly Mazzante and Joe Paterno, to name a few.
"We have had longtime table sponsors who have supported the dinner year after year, and coaches such as Frank Girardi and Dick Anderson, who have kept us going," Demel said. "The athletes who attend are so gracious and the crowd always appreciates them coming to Williamsport."
Over the past 22 years, the dinner has raised more than $250,000 through contributions and table sponsorships. This year, the dinner is sponsored by Blaise Alexander and the Blaise Alexander Dealerships.
A table sponsorship is $750 and includes dinner for a table of eight, a celebrity seated at the table and recognition in the event program. Single seats also are available for $100.
All guests will have the opportunity to bid on sports memorabilia at a silent auction, which will be held during the event.
"Besides raising the much-needed funds, we especially enjoy watching people enjoy the evening," Demel said. "It is a combination of laughter and tears, and when people leave, they feel like they have been a part of something special."
Those who are interested in attending should make reservations by Friday to Wascher at 326-3393.