2018 Benefit Gala

Cornerstone of Hope celebrated our Annual Benefit Gala’s 15th anniversary on Saturday, February 24, 2018 at The Embassy Suites-Rockside Road, in Independence. The Gala featured raffles, a live auction, silent auction, and amazing food and entertainment. Our evening was dedicated to honoring Champion of Hope, Bobby DiGeronimo.

Words simply cannot convey the impact Bobby DiGeronimo has had on Cornerstone of Hope from the very moment that Mark and Christi Tripodi shared the concept of Cornerstone of Hope with him. Bobby’s relentless efforts have been an absolute blessing to Cornerstone of Hope’s existence. Bobby was influential in introducing Mark and Christi to key donors, offering rent-free office space for the first five years, to building our permanent center on Brecksville Road. He has always been amazingly generous to support all of our fundraising efforts, especially the Gala.

Thank you to all who have gone above and beyond to support Cornerstone for this evening celebrating 15 years of service to the community. During this time span over 34,000 grievers have sought Cornerstone’s help. Your belief in our mission and your generous hearts have had a direct impact on grieving families who walk through our doors. Your kindness allows us to continue to serve the bereaved with Christian values and clinical excellence.

2018 Champion of Hope: Bobby DiGeronimo

Where do I begin…

Bobby came from humble beginnings, the fourth of seven children. His parents both immigrated to Cleveland from Italy looking to provide their children more than they had been given. His father, Sam, taught Bobby the value of hard work while his mother, Mary, instilled faith, love, and laughter into her son. Bobby’s role model and oldest brother, Don, took these values and created an excavation company in 1956 that would set the course to affect and change countless lives.

Within 10 years of the company’s inception, Bobby would be drafted during the Vietnam War along with his best friend, Rich Sadick. By the grace of God, somehow Bobby was deferred to South Korea. Rich, tragically, was sent to Vietnam and within 2 months was killed during enemy fire. His affection for Rich and compassion for the grief Rich’s family was experiencing led Bobby to consistently visit them several times a week over the next year. A year later, Don DiGeronimo was diagnosed with colon cancer and succumbed to the disease at the age of 34. The loss of such a magnanimous and integral person affected the entire family, but in those days grief and its heartbreak were rarely talked about. He would have to endure loss a third time when in 2000, Mark and I tragically lost our son, Bobby’s first grandson and namesake, to bacterial meningitis.

These and many other life experiences have shaped Bobby to be the man he is. Cornerstone of Hope would simply not be what it is today if it weren’t for this incredible man. He was practicing Cornerstone’s philosophy before Cornerstone of Hope existed. His life is a reflection of compassion, love and generosity to those he meets from all walks of life. Because of his resolve to never forget where he came from, his loyalty and empathy for those who grieve, and passion for its mission, Cornerstone of Hope cannot understate the impact Bobby has made on its existence. Quite simply, he knows loss. He understands the purpose of walking with those who grieve and the effect one person can make when they move beyond the discomfort of being present in others’ darkest days.

We are beyond honored to congratulate Bobby DiGeronimo as our 2018 Champion of Hope. He is more than deserving. Best of all, I get to call him Dad! – Christi Tripodi


Special Thanks

Gala Chair –Missy Hayes

Gala Committee – Laura Filippi, Jennifer Gramlich, Becky Manelski, Terri Schreiber, Carrie Sears, Traci Ward, Lisa Woods

Mistress of Ceremonies – Denise Dufala & Tiffani Tucker (Cleveland 19 News)

Master of Ceremonies – Jimmy Malone

Celebrity Auctioneer – Denise Dufala, Tiffani Tucker, Jimmy Malone and Sara Shookman (WKYC Channel 3)

Auctioneer – Ed Pfister, III

Celebrity Entertainment – Shawn Klush, the ultimate Elvis tribute artist



The proceeds from our 2018 Annual Benefit Gala has allowed us to reach even more through the Compassionate Care Fund of Cornerstone of Hope, providing financial support to families unable to afford the cost of bereavement counseling after the death of a loved one. Every day, we hear stories of families facing the unknown and worried about how they will be able to receive help. We also hear the sigh of relief when they find out that Cornerstone of Hope will not turn them away for their inability to pay. Your incredible generosity makes a difference!