The Dinner of Champions is the National MS Society's premier gala event and pays tribute to the vast network of generous corporations, organizations and volunteer leaders who are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of people living with MS.
T.K. McCarthey Silver Hope Award, Khosrow B. Semnani
Born in Iran, Khosrow first studied in England before immigrating to the United States in 1968. He completed his undergraduate work in physics and chemistry at Westminster College. Khosrow then went on to ear his graduate degree in engineering management at the University of Utah before starting his professional career at Kennecott Copper. Eventually, he founded several companies, including Envirocare (now Energy Solutions under new ownership) and S.K. Hart Management. He and his wife, Ghazaleh, in 1993 created the Semnani Family Foundation, which focuses on humanitarian relief across the globe. The foundation also created the Maliheh Free Clinic in 2005 to provide free health care to uninsured and low-income people in the Salt
2019 PRO Athlete of the Year – Haloti Ngata, Baltimore Ravens
Haloti Ngata is a former American football defensive tackle. He played college football for the University of Oregon and earned consensus All-American honors. Ngata was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft, and was selected for the Pro Bowl five times. Ngata played for the Ravens for nine seasons before being traded to the Detroit Lions before the 2015 NFL season. Ngata was also a member of the Philadelphia Eagles for one season in 2018 before retiring.
Champion of the Year – Apa Sherpa
Lhakpa Tenzing Sherpa was born in Thame, a village 3860 M high in the Everest region of Nepal near the Chinese border. At the age of 3 months, he and his mother were caught in an avalanche. Lhakpa was thrown from the basket on his mother’s back and came to rest under an ice ledge by a stream. After his mother found him unhurt 2 hours later, she took him to the Lama to pray and give thanks. It was at this point where Lhakpa was renamed “Apa” which means much loved. Apa always wanted to be a doctor, but his dreams were shattered when at the age of 12 his father died.
Following his father’s death, Apa had to take up the responsibilities of his family, consisting of his mother, two sisters, and three younger brothers. He dropped out of school and started working as a porter for mountaineering groups. His climbing career began in 1985, when he worked as a kitchen boy and porter for various groups but was not given the opportunity to reach the summit until 1990.
Apa has reached the summit of Everest twenty one times, holds 13 Guinness Book of World records and helps run the Apa Sherpa Foundation. “ Without an education we have no Choice. He has never lost a climber. https://youtu.be/itHU2W7zzXs
Female Collegiate Athlete of the Year, JULIA RICHTER
Represented Utah at the NCAA Championships, first-team All-RMISA Second in the league with two victories (sprint classic at the UAA Invite, 15-km classic at the RMISA Championships)Third in the league with four podium finishes Second in the 5-km freestyle at the RMISA Championships and second in the10-km freestyle at the UAA Invite Named RMISA Skier of the Week for the UAA Invitational Won the classic race and finishing second in the freestyle race, did not finish lower than fourth in the final six races of the regular season.
Lifetime Achievement Award, Dave Rose
Dave Rose coached BYU men’s’ basketball team for 22 years. 14 years as head coach. Rose holds an overall record of 348-135 as the head coach of BYU. He is currently 11th overall in the NCAA among active coaches with a career winning percentage of .720 and was the 15th fastest head coach in NCAA history to reach 200 wins. Rose led BYU to top 25 rankings five times during his tenure and reached the NCAA tournament a BYU record eight times. Rose coached six All-Americans and five conference players of the year. https://youtu.be/epRuth9MQkA
Living with Hope, Eric Kjar
Living with MS, but not letting that keep him from the sidelines. In his second season at the helm, Kjar led the Chargers to a perfect 12-0 campaign and the first Class 5A state championship in the program’s six-year history. USA TODAY High School Sports announced Eric as the Coach of the Year, based on the 2018-2019 season. https://youtu.be/aRJ1CC6hKTo
Above & Beyond, Chris Santacroce
Chris Santacroce is a 42-year-old father of two who resides in Draper, Utah. He is from Colorado but has spent the last 25 years in Utah and now calls it his home. He has been a full-time paragliding professional since 1992 and spent 13 of those years as a Red Bull athlete traveling the world to showcase free flying sports in general. He flies everything from airplanes to powered and unpowered hang gliders paragliders, paramotors and has hundreds of skydives and BASE jumps.
In 2000-something Chris suffered a life-altering spinal cord injury which resulted in him spending some time in a wheelchair. As good fortune would have it, he made a 120% recovery but was left with a different view of the world and an improved view of life. He went from a wholehearted "look at me and look at what I can do" sort of attitude to a world where the only question was, What can I do for you? Chris answered that question by devoting his life to taking everyone flying, with no exception. Project Airtime was born and now it is his life's focus. https://youtu.be/ytbP1TMHsIo
Male Collegiate Athlete of the Year, Clayton Young
- 2018 second-team All-American (Outdoor): Took 12th overall in the 5000m (14:02.17) at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Championships
- 2018 honorable mention (Outdoor): Finished 23rd in the 10,000m (31:37.54) at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Championships
- 2018 second-team All-American (Indoor): Placed 15th in the 5000m (14:22.90) at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships https://www.sltrib.com/sports/2019/06/06/byus-clayton-young-wins/
Sports Professional of the Year, Megan Marsden
Megan Marsden, one of the most iconic names in the history of college gymnastics, retired on Apr. 22, 2019 after 35 years on the Utah coaching staff. As the co-head coach from 2010-19, Marsden recorded a 222-80-3 record, three Pac-12 Championships and an NCAA runner-up finish in 2015. No coach in NCAA gymnastics history can boast the combined gymnastics and coaching accomplishments of Marsden, who starred on four national champion teams at Utah from 1981-84 and helped coach the Utes to another six national titles. Utah never missed a national championship in Marsden’s 39 years in the program. As the most decorated college gymnast of her time, the former Megan McCunniff graduated from the U. in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations, three individual NCAA titles (two all-around, one vault) and 12 first-team All-America awards. Marsden stepped into coaching one year after winning the 1984 Broderick Award as the country’s top collegiate female gymnast. She performed gymnastics on one other occasion after her competitive career, appearing in the 1986 movie “American Anthem” as gymnast Jo Ellen Carter. In 1996, Marsden became the first gymnast inducted into the Utah athletics department’s Crimson Club Hall of Fame. In 2003, she was inducted into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame. https://www.facebook.com/UtahGymnastics/videos/10153446241949211/?t=0
Team of the Year, Utah State Basketball Team
The 201819 Utah State Aggies men's basketball team represented Utah State University in the 201819 NCAA Division I men's basketball season. The Aggies, led by first-year head coach Craig Smith, shared the regular-season Mountain West title with Nevada and defeated New Mexico, Fresno State, and San Diego State to win the Mountain West Tournament to earn the Mountain West's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for their first appearance since 2011. They lost in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament to Washington. https://youtu.be/9AQhbkMljfs