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NEW YORK — The Two Ten Footwear Foundation will honor two highly regarded executives when the organization holds its annual dinner in New York on Nov. 28 at the Marriott Marquis.
Aldo Bensadoun, founder and executive chairman of Aldo Group Inc., will receive the T. Kenyon Holly Memorial Award for his company's many humanitarian efforts. Kohl's Inc. SVP and DMM of footwear Carol Baiocchi, former chair of the Two Ten board, will receive the A.A. Bloom award for her years of dedication to the nonprofit organization.
"These two people are perfect examples of the generosity and spirit of Two Ten and what we call footwear philanthropy," said Neal Newman, president of the nonprofit. "We were looking for individuals who reinforce the notion that we're an industry that cares about its workforce."
Bensadoun, whose Montreal-based company has long been a champion of AIDS prevention and other charitable causes, said he is grateful to receive the honor this year.
"When you look at who's received that honor before, it's a testament to what people think of me," the Aldo founder said, referring to previous T. Kenyon Holly recipients, who have included Kenneth Cole, Ron Fromm and Jim and Larry Tarica. "It means a lot. Every industry should help its own people, but as a corporation, social entrepreneurship is so important."
For her part, Baiocchi said she is thankful to be honored at this year's dinner.
"It's a wonderful symbol of what's great in the shoe industry," she said. "Being a part of this foundation has been very rewarding in and of itself, and I'm very humbled and honored."
After selling out last year's event and raising more than $2 million for footwear families in need, Two Ten is aiming higher in 2012 by giving the annual dinner a more youthful vibe.
For the first time, members of Two Ten's young professionals group, YP210, will be invited to the dinner. As a result, there will be 200 more seats available than last year in order to accommodate the increased number of guests expected.
This year's event will be chaired by footwear power player Steve Madden — a move both Newman and Baiocchi believe will give the fundraiser a new look.
"This year's dinner with Steve chairing is a turning point for Two Ten," Newman said. "He senses it and expresses it, and we're going to be much more ambitious in the next couple of years to reach a broader, younger audience."
Baiocchi, who personally asked Madden to chair this year's fundraiser, agreed.
"Steve will bring a vibrancy and energy to the dinner that will really get a lot of people to take notice," she said. "Steve is probably the most generous person I know and is someone who really wants to give back to the shoe industry."
And the event chair is clear about his goals. "All we're trying to do is raise consciousness about what a great organization Two Ten is and how it helps a lot of people," said the founder of Steven Madden Ltd.
Earlier this year, Madden and his wife, Wendy, donated $1 million to the footwear organization.
"Two Ten is really important, and I believe those of us who are doing well have a responsibility to look [after] and help other people," said Madden.
According to Newman, gifts like the Maddens' allowed Two Ten to provide $20,000 in financial aid last month to Gulf Coast footwear families affected by Hurricane Isaac.