Walt Disney World Resort hosted the largest and oldest Greek-American association in the world July 24-30 as the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) held its annual convention at the Resort for the first time in the organization’s 95-year history.
AHEPA is comprised of more than 500 chapters chartered in the United States, Canada, Greece and Cyprus, with additional chapters in Australia and New Zealand. Its mission is to promote the ideals of Hellenism, education, philanthropy, civic responsibility and family and individual excellence.
A highlight of this year’s conference was the first national Hellenic history tournament, where high-school students from across the United States competed in games designed to challenge them on their knowledge of Hellenic history from 5,000 BC to the present.
Participating students qualified for the inaugural national championship via a series of regional competitions, in which winners earned scholarships. This first-ever national contest was sponsored by the AHEPA educational foundation, which awarded more than $10,000 in prizes for the winners.
“It was extraordinary to hold our annual meetings here at Walt Disney World, where the beauty of so many international cultures are celebrated, every day of the year,” said Andrew C. Zachariades, Supreme President of AHEPA. “Plus, as learning and education are such an intrinsic element of Disney, we were delighted to hold our first history tournament here. Altogether, it has been a delightful week; like the Greeks, Disney understands hospitality!”
The organization recognized George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort, with the AHEPA Socrates Award in 2014 in honor of his life-long commitment to Guest service. The Socrates Award is the organization’s highest honor; recipients are selected by a two-thirds vote of the Supreme Lodge, from a list submitted one year prior to the presentation. AHEPA recognized Panos Kammenos, the Defense Minister of the Republic of Greece and Tim Tassopoulos, President and Chief Operating Officer of Chick-Fil-A with their 2017 Awards at a gala held at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club on July 29.