SOUTHINGTON – Mike DeFeo, Coca-Cola Beverages Northeast general manager, was recently announced as Southington UNICO’s 2021 Gold Medal of Honor recipient.
The recognition is UNICO’s highest honor. Since 1945, the Gold Medal of Honor has been awarded to distinguished citizens in the Southington community. A dinner ceremony in recognition of DeFeo is planned for Wednesday, May 18 at the Aqua Turf Club.
“Southington is a special place and the Gold Medal Award is a major honor. It means so much to my family and I,” DeFeo said.
UNICO President Vincent DeSanti said DeFeo embodies the organization’s model of “service above self.”
“Mike has been inspiring people to take action for decades. He leads by example and continues to make a positive impact for Southington’s youth and a variety of worthy causes. His dedication and service is remarkable,” said DeSanti.
Five years ago, funding for middle school activities was cut by the Town’s Board of Education. Mike met with the Board and convinced them to reinstate the funds. However, the next year, funding was cut again. DeFeo acted again and formed a parent association to fundraise. The effort paid off and the group raised $90,000 to allow the sports to be played in middle schools. In 2020, The Board of Education approved to restore funding for Middle School Sports Programs. Prior to these efforts, DeFeo was also instrumental in bringing turf to the Southington High School football field, known now as The Community Turf Field.
“These are critical years in a young person’s life and their development. Without outlets and activities, you never know what some of them may turn to. I can’t imagine these kids missing out on these important opportunities.”
DeFeo, a Southington native, currently serves on The Southington Parks and Recreation Board. His contributions to the town, and across the state, have been recognized by community organizations throughout the years. In 2017, Southington Community YMCA named DeFeo its person of the year for his efforts to preserve middle school sports. He was also a recipient of The Connecticut High School Coaches Association Distinguished Service Award.
In addition to coaching many Southington youth sports teams, DeFeo has served as Chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Ball, Board member of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, Special Olympics CT, President of the Southington Youth Basketball program and President of The Southington Little League South. DeFeo is currently on the Greater Hartford YMCA Board of Directors which oversees thirteen YMCAs in the Greater Hartford Area.
“People in Southington will always rise to the occasion when needed. I love it here and always feel a strong obligation to give back, said DeFeo.
Tickets to the Gold Medal Award dinner are $75 and can be purchased by visiting southingtonunico.org, at Fasulo and Albini CPAs located at 16 Cornerstone Court, or Southington Insurance Center at 85 Liberty Street.