Over 300 Macedonians and friends of all generations gathered at the United Macedonian Diaspora’s (UMD) Macedonian Tribute Ball at Detroit’s beautiful Westin Book Cadillac on Saturday, September 22, 2018.
Guests attended from near and far, coming from places including Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; Toronto, Canada; New York City; Chicago; Cleveland; Rochester, New York; Boston; Dallas; and even from Skopje, Macedonia and Bucharest, Romania. Special guests included the Honorary Consuls of France and the Slovak Republic, the Consul General of Canada, and the Deputy Consul of Mexico to Michigan.
Full Ball Pictures can be found by clicking HERE and some are below this press release. Videos of the speeches can be found on UMD’s YouTube Channel. All photos and videos courtesy of Pure Image Productions, Inc.
Macedonian Tribute Ball Commemorative Journal with full biographies of speakers, tributes, letters of congratulations can be found by clicking HERE.
Several UMD members offered glowing reviews of the Ball.
“A resounding success – bringing the community together again and stronger than ever before,” said UMD Michigan Chair and Ball Co-Chair Deana Janceski about UMD’s first-ever Tribute Ball in Detroit.
“Tonight is about standing up for our identity, respect for the individual, and for fundamental human rights. For me, it is very personal and one of those things in life that help to define who I am. My aunt (may she rest in peace) used to refer to me as “Koren”…or “Root”…She saw in me how much I valued my family roots and heritage. Roots are what give strength to a tree and prevents it from blowing over in a storm,” said UMD Board Secretary and Ball Co-Chair George Peters.
During the Ball, His Excellency Dr. Gjorge Ivanov, President of Macedonia, received the UMD Global Statesman Award for his outstanding accomplishments during his near-decade in office. Evelyn Dinu received the UMD Macedonian Heritage Public Service Award for her lifelong dedication to Macedonian causes, and Congressman Paul Mitchell and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell received the UMD Macedonia Friendship Award for their unwavering support of the Republic of Macedonia.
UMD Chairman Stojan Nikolov’s had warm remarks to introduce President Ivanov to the stage: “His accomplishments as a President of the Republic of Macedonia are too numerous to count… his legacy as a staunch defender of the Macedonian Constitution, Macedonia’s name, Macedonian values, culture and traditions… are some of the most important reasons that come to mind and for which the UMD Board of Directors decided to present President Gjorge Ivanov with the UMD Global Statesman Award.”
After Mr. Nikolov’s speech, wherein he contrasted the position of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev with that of President Ivanov, the President made an eagerly anticipated announcement that he will boycott the September 30th referendum. Recalling the high ideals underlying the history of the formation of the Republic, President Ivanov articulated his stance: “I was one of those who cast their vote in favor of constituting the Republic of Macedonia as a sovereign and independent state, with its own name and dignity. Therefore, I will not go out and vote on September 30.” The President’s announcement was met with a standing ovation. First Lady Maja Ivanova accompanied the President during his visit to Detroit.
Toronto’s own Elizabeth Naumovski, Vice President of Marketing at Caldwell Securities and the Host of the Television Show “Finance is Personal” – a show on financial literacy for women of all ages – was the Ball’s Emcee. Naumovski has done a stellar job emceeing several UMD galas and functions in the past decade.
Honorary Ball Chairman and Ambassador of the Republic of Macedonia to the United States, Dr. Vasko Naumovski praised UMD for always defending Macedonia and Macedonian values, and the excellent collaboration he has had with the organization.
Alex Dinu and Denise Ilitch gave emotional speeches about Evelyn Dinu and what she means to them, followed by a video about Ms. Dinu’s many years of service to the Macedonian community, her church, and her family.
“Evelyn was blessed to have exemplary role models of her parents, I feel so blessed to have grown up with them. They were committed to our faith and Macedonia. She has been a wonderful role model to me, she always led by example. Importance of church, unity and collaboration. She is an astute business woman – Evelyn is often referred to as the Macedonian angel,” noted Denise Ilitch. Denise noted how Evelyn raised $58,000 for the orphanage in Bitola, Macedonia.
Alex Dinu followed Denise at the podium to introduce his mother. “On behalf of our mom, we would like to express our gratitude for being the recipient of the Macedonian Heritage Award.” He went on to detail her affinity for Macedonia: “Even as a child, I can remember one of the key characteristics of my mom: always being proud of her heritage. I remember her teaching us the language, making the food, sharing the customs.” In welcoming her to the stage he said: “On behalf of all your children and all your grandchildren, we want you to know you have been an amazing mentor.”
Taking the stage, Evelyn Dinu thanked everyone for their kind words and summed up the crowd’s sentiments when she concluded “God Bless America, God Bless Macedonia.”
Trajko Papuckoski, UMD U.S. Operations Director, recounted his own family’s story, tying it to the role the Congressional Caucus on Macedonia and Macedonian-Americans plays in Washington, D.C.
“I spoke about Macedonia and any nation’s right to self-determination – they get to choose – Macedonia gets to decide how it joins NATO and the EU,” said Congressman Paul Mitchell.
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell: “Mr. President, welcome to Michigan. This is the real world. You are very lucky to have the Ilitch family a proud Macedonian family. I am very proud to co-chair this Caucus and all the work that UMD does. We need to continue to build bridges between our two countries. We need to be building bridges in many places. Thank you Thank you – it is a great honor!”
Following a video on Birthright Macedonia, UMD President Metodija A. Koloski closed the evening with reiterating that the proceeds of the Ball will go towards: UMD’s John L. N. Bitove, C.M. Macedonian Heritage Scholarship, the Generation M young leaders program, Birthright Macedonia, and UMD’s Washington, D.C.-based International Policy and Diplomacy Fellowship. Koloski made a special tribute during the Ball to the late Mike Ilitch, and Marian Ilitch who attended the Ball.
Ball attendees also enjoyed musical performances. Boston’s Nev Neskoska sang the American and Macedonian anthems. Ten-year-old Giana Krstovski gave us great pride with her rendition of “Makedonsko Devojce,” while North America’s premier Macedonian folk dance group – Makedonka – gave captivating opening and closing performances, featuring four traditional Macedonian dances. The night ended with Riste Tevdoski and 5Star Band playing all the top ora and songs – with everyone holding hands and circle dancing to Macedonian music.
UMD extends a very special thank you to our generous sponsors and donors (Macedonian Defender: St. Clement Orthodox Church Family and George Peters; Macedonian Leader: A.G. MAC Imp./Exp. Co., 3 Brothers Family Restaurant, Pure Image Productions, and Symposium Café; Macedonian Companion: Herbal Science, Kris Krstovski – K2 Retail Construction & Development, and UnitedHealthcare; Donors: ADM Air Control, Sandra Dale) for the Ball, and our deepest gratitude to our host committee (Alex Atanasovski, Mende Bezanovski, Dalibor Dimovski, Mallory Fiordellisi, Marija Georgievski, Stephanie Krstovski, Biljana Marinkovic, Vera Najdovska, Evan Perelekos, Sonja Sekulovski, and Alek Vasilevski) and all of our volunteers.