MONTVILLE, NJ – The Leonidas Foundation held its second annual Kickoff Event cocktail party fundraiser on April 19, at which approximately 700 people gathered.

The Leonidas Foundation was formed following the tragic death of Towaco resident Leonidas Vagias in 2016. The foundation board is composed of family and friends of Vagias, who was 19 years old when he died in a car accident with his friend Sam Cali. The board is carrying on Leo’s name by performing service projects designed to improve the mind, body and spirit. Cali’s family has also formed a foundation.

The Leonidas Foundation has grown “exponentially since last year’s event,” foundation president Matthew Perricone told attendees of the Kickoff Event. “Our proudest accomplishment is the LEO Program at Don Bosco Prep School.” (Read about the business program here.) “The ‘L’ stands for leadership, the ‘E’ for entrepreneurship, and the ‘O’ for opportunity. This year the inaugural class of 25 juniors is experiencing an unprecedented and unparalleled business education program featuring mentorship from top corporate executives, attending the LEO Summer Business Conference, and creating their own business to pitch in a ‘Shark Tank’ style gathering.

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“But to enrich the spirit, [the foundation has] also stocked local food pantries, donated toys to underprivileged children, and sent orphans from the St. Peter’s Orphanage in Denville to Six Flags for the day – one of Leo’s favorite places to go. We have been blessed to touch so many lives in honor of Leo.”

Perricone said the foundation plans to increase community outreach, continue charitable endeavors, and foster the expansion of the LEO program.

At the Kickoff Event, the foundation also bestowed their Leader of the Year award on the Murray Family of Mahwah, because “they truly embody those principles of mind, body and spirit,” Perricone said in a release. “Each member of the Murray family had a deep personal impact on Leo’s life and helped to cultivate his own development as a young man.”

The award was presented to Aidan, Linda, and sons Patrick and Aidan Murray. Linda was one of Leo’s teachers, Aidan was one of Leo’s coaches at Don Bosco Prep School, Patrick was an influential alumnus, and the younger Aidan was a classmate and football teammate.

“From Mrs. Murray’s role in working with Leo’s mind, to the Murray men’s impact on his athletic body of work, to the entire family’s generous spirit, I can think of no one more deserving to receive this award in 2018,” Perricone wrote in the release.

Aidan (senior) presented the Vagias family with a game ball from one of the games Leo played in at the Kickoff Event.

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