CLEVELAND--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Kenn Ricci, the Greater Cleveland aviation businessman and philanthropist, was honored at the 16th annual Chef's Fantasy Dinner and Auction held by the Northern Ohio Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Ricci was honored for championing research and treatment of the disease, which affects 30,000 children and adults in the United States. More than 300 people attended last weekend’s event at the Ritz-Carlton Cleveland, helping to raise more than $360,000 in just one evening.
Ricci is the founder and principal of Richmond Heights-based Directional Aviation Capital. His 12-year-old son Austin has lived with cystic fibrosis since he was born, leading Ricci to establish the Austin Ricci Chair in Cystic Fibrosis with a $2 million gift to University Hospitals Case Medical Center’s Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. Austin Ricci spoke in tribute to his father at the April 26 event, comparing his life with cystic fibrosis to playing and winning a football game.
“I don’t think about having cystic fibrosis; I just do what it takes to beat the disease. Like a football game, just focus on the blocking and tackling and, eventually, you will win the game,” said Austin, a sixth-grader at Gilmour Academy in Gates Mills. “My dad tells me all the time to think about how good things are and not how bad they could be. He also tells me to be positive about the future and reminds me that I will be part of the generation of children who see the end of this disease.”
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said, “Every year, Northeast Ohio’s universities and hospitals conduct groundbreaking research on serious diseases like cystic fibrosis. I thank Kenn Ricci and his family for their efforts to bring us closer to curing, and even preventing, this disease. Their commitment to our world-class medical institutions has improved the lives of Ohioans and of those around the world.”
Ricci and his wife, Pamela, also donated the evening’s highest-grossing charity auction item, a luxury vacation package to Cabo San Lucas, complete with private jet air travel, which fetched a $25,000 donation. Beyond the Ricci family’s charity auction items, organizations and individuals from all across Northeast Ohio donated items that made this year’s charity auction the most successful in the 16-year history of the event.
Ricci’s company, based in Richmond Heights, invests in the private business aviation industry. Directional’s portfolio companies include FlexJet, Flight Options, Sentient Jet, Nextant Aerospace and Constant Aviation. His companies have brought upwards of 1,500 jobs to the Cleveland area.
Ricci is a Greater Cleveland native who grew up in South Euclid. In addition to Austin, Ricci is the father of Kennedy Ricci, a freshman at the University of Notre Dame, and Elizabeth Ricci, a customer experience manager for Nextant Aerospace. Ricci and his wife, Pamela, live in Willoughby Hills.
Ricci graduated from the University of Notre Dame and the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. He is the author of the leadership book “Management by Trust” and served as the pilot for Bill Clinton when Clinton ran for president in 1992.
Ricci serves as a trustee of University Hospitals and on the national board of Childhelp, which assists victims of child abuse and neglect. He also is a member of Notre Dame’s Business Advisory Council.
About the Northern Ohio Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
The Northern Ohio Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation works to help develop a means to control and cure cystic fibrosis and to improve the lives of those with the disease. The chapter serves 28 counties throughout Northern Ohio.
To make a donation: https://www.cff.org/Chapters/NorthernOH/general/index.cfm
About the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is the world’s leader in the search for a cure for cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic disease that affects 30,000 children and adults in the United States and 70,000 people worldwide. The Foundation’s mission is to find a cure for cystic fibrosis and improve the quality of the life for those with the disease. We accomplish this by funding life-saving research and working to provide access to quality care and effective therapies for people with the disease.
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has raised and invested hundreds of millions of dollars to help develop cystic fibrosis drugs and therapies. Through our efforts, life expectancy of a child with cystic fibrosis has doubled in the last 30 years, and research to find a cure is more promising than ever before. Real progress toward a cure has been made, but the lives of young people with the disease are still cut far too short.
For more information about the disease and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, call (800) FIGHT CF or visit www.cff.org.