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March 27, 2002


LA CROSSE, Wis— Father Robert Cook, a well-known La Crosse diocesan priest; Leah Mathy, and active community volunteer, and Wayne Kotroski, a leading organizer of hunger relief efforts, will receive the Pope John XXIII Award for Distinguished Service on Tuesday, April 23 at Viterbo University

The ceremony and banquet, which will be held in the Fine Arts Center, is set for 6:30 p.m.

A graduate of Aquinas High School, Fr. Cook received the Bishop John Paul Award from his alma mater earlier this year in recognition of his exceptional service. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Frederick Freking in 1965, and in 1973, he received a graduate degree in theology from St. John’s University in Collegeville (Minnesota).

His experience is wide-ranging. Fr. Cook has taught school, directed the Newman Center Apostolate, headed the Office of Ministries for the Diocese of La Crosse, and served as chair of the Diocesan Presbyteral Council and as Dean of the La Crosse Deanery. Since 1991, he has served as rector of the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman. Ever present for the needs of his parishioners, Fr. Cook has extended himself to many others—often in his characteristically quiet and unassuming way.

 He is chair of the Board of Directors for the Franciscan Skemp Foundation. He is also a member-at-large on the United Way Board and has served as vice president.

Mathy has longstanding commitment to a number of area organizations.

 At Riverfront, she was recently named "Humanitarian of the Year,’ in recognition of her contributions toward improving services, quality of life, and community presence for people with disabilities. She was a strong supporter and fundraiser for that organization during its capital campaign.
 She has also been a volunteer with Chileda Habilitation Center since it moved to the city from Stevens Point in 1978. For many years she was on Chileda’s Women’s Board, including several terms as president. She is currently on Chileda’s board of directors as well as the foundation board.  Mathy was instrumental in securing funding for the Swiss Resource Center at Chileda which provides comprehensive access to articles, books, and research on virtually every known developmental disability.

 At Franciscan Skemp Healthcare (FSH), she is a member of the foundation board.

 A graduate of UW-Madison, Mathy has served as a member of that institution’s alumni board.

Kostroski is a successful and nationally known restaurateur and owner of several Twin Cities establishments. Kostroski oversees the strategic planning, management and operations of Goodfellow’s.   He is also a co-owner of Cuisine Concepts, Inc., which includes:  Bar Abilene in Uptown Minneapolis, Tejas Express in Marshall Field’s downtown location and at the Minnesota State Fair, Franklin Street Bakery/wholesale and retail operations, and the consulting division of Cuisine Concepts.

He has also applied his business skills to other pursuits, which have benefited many. A highly successful fundraiser, he has served on the board of directors for Share Our Strength (S.O.S.), a national organization of chefs and restaurateurs who support regional, national, and international hunger-relief agencies.

 In 1992, Kostroski co-chaired the Restaurant Committee for the Super Bowl XXVI Task Force, and created and chaired the first "Taste of the NFL." This annual event brings top chefs and alumni players from each NFL city together for a fun-filled, food-sampling gala at the site of the Super Bowl. To date, more than $3.3 million has been raised for hunger relief through this event. Kostroski was also one of the principals who initiated the Jam Against Hunger held at the Mall of America.

 His work in the areas of hunger relief is based on a model which others have emulated. He has lectured at Viterbo’s D. B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership on the topic, "Giving is Good Business: Achieving Super Bowl Results with Your Business, Your Community, and Yourself.

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