The Chargers and family values continue to be intertwined.
Family is a fundamental part of the franchise’s blueprint and a part of the formula Owner Alex Spanos used to build his business from humble beginnings in 1951.
Almost 60 years later, his son – President & Chief Executive Officer Dean Spanos – was honored by the American Diabetes Association and the Father’s Day Council of San Diego as “Father of the Year.”
The ADA held an awards dinner at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront on Thursday to honor Dean Spanos and four others. The event raised more than $200,000 to prevent and cure diabetes.
“I am extremely, extremely honored to receive this award tonight. It’s particularly special to be introduced by my sons,” Dean Spanos said. “As proud as I would be to bring a Super Bowl trophy to San Diego, that can’t even begin to compare to how proud I am right now for what outstanding young men they’ve become.
“It’s a very worthy cause. It’s a very bad disease and it’s an honor to help in any way we possibly can. And I believe, as with all diseases, eventually they’re going to find a cure.”
The event began with a reception at the hotel’s fourth-floor balcony overlooking the water and the Coronado Bridge. As guests moved inside for dinner, they watched a pre-recorded video on two large projection screens. Dean Spanos called family the most pleasurable part of his life.
“When everything doesn’t go perfect in your life, that’s when you fall back on family,” he said.
Later, a commemorative video comprised of personal interviews gave the audience a glimpse of how much Dean Spanos and his family members value each other.
“When I think of my father, I think of the man I want to be when I grow up,” Executive Vice President – Executive Officer A.G. Spanos said.
They told a series of anecdotes about their lives:
• Susie Spanos remembered meeting her future husband at Lake Tahoe through a mutual friend. She protested until she got a glimpse of him.
“I don’t want to meet anybody else, leave me alone,” she recalled telling her friend. “But then I saw Deno up there and I said, ‘That guy is really cute.’”
• A.G. Spanos related a frightening but funny moment from his childhood.
Dean brought a gorilla mask home one day to deploy on his sons.
“It was legit Hollywood style. It had real hair and teeth and everything,” A.G. Spanos said. “I remember one time he threw it on when we were still pretty little and he came out crouched down from behind the corner as we were walking by, and jumped out and moved as an ape would, and I just remember freaking out. I remember falling down, like, ‘Woah, there’s a gorilla in our house right now.’”
Said Dean Spanos of the mask’s cameo in the video: “When (the producers) told me to put this thing on, I said, ‘No, I really don’t want to do it,’ and they said please, and I said, ‘OK, but I better not find it on Twitter.’”
• Director of College Scouting John Spanos marveled at his father’s ability to dress casual despite an affinity for fine suits and ties.
Said Dean Spanos: “When I was in my 20s, I always used to dress just perfectly. I wore slacks and a shirt and a sport coat. Whatever it was, it had to be just perfect. And as you get a little bit older, you just dress to be more comfortable.”
• A.G. Spanos told of working for the Chargers during his youth, handling the team’s mail. He didn’t want to spend his summer that way at first, but exited with an appreciation for hard work.
Said John Spanos: “We’re very proud of him for this honor and I think it’s very well deserved. Generosity was one of the first words I used to describe him. And the thing about his generosity, he never does it for attention. He loves being behind the scenes. He does so many generous acts, not just with our family, but with others.”
Diabetes is the fifth-leading cause of death by disease. More than 200,000 people in San Diego County live with diabetes. The ADA has funded more than $14 million of research for the disease in San Diego alone.
The Father’s Day Council honors individuals who exemplify outstanding commitment to children, family and community.
Along with Dean Spanos, the group recognized Craig Dado, Vice President, Marketing of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club; Joseph Panetta, President and CEO of BIOCOM; Bill Strauss, CEO of Provide Commerce; and Thomas W. Turner Jr., Managing Partner of Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch.