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Online Twitter Contest Winner Speaks about NIAF Gala Experience

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Before the Gala, NIAF ran a special contest on Twitter asking followers, “What values has your heritage taught you?” Mike D. Nieto responded saying, “My ancestors gave up so much so the rest of us could have better lives. Family is what they valued and what I now value.” NIAF was pleased to award him two tickets to the Gala for winning the contest and after the Gala he wrote the following:


“As I was sitting there during all the speeches and listening to all the honorees and presenters I kept thinking of my Great Grandmother and all that she sacrificed for my family.  When the President spoke, I realized just how lucky I was to be there that night, and how lucky I am to be here at all.


My Great Grandmother, Giulia De Stefano, came over on the ship “Olympic” on Dec. 22, 1920. She left her town of Serra Pedace (in Calabria) after her first husband, Ernesto Venerdi was killed in WWI, her brother also, and another brother lost a leg. She came here to make a better life for her and her son (Peter). She knew if she stayed in Italy she was going to be a scorned woman, raising a child of her own with no husband.  Her other brother, Gabriel DeStefano, sponsored her on the ship and introduced her to a friend when she arrived. She married tha friend shortly after her arrival and my grandmother was born in 1922.


And then this weekend, I was sitting in a room dining with thousands of others Italians, including the Speaker of the House and the President of the United States of America.  It truly is amazing.”



Mike Nieto and Frankie Avalon

Nancy Pelosi and Mike Nieto