PARTIES: FATHERS OF THE YEAR

 The American Diabetes Association's 2017 Fathers of the Year: Kieth Cockrell of Bank of America, Chad Utermark of Nucor and Vinay Patel of SREE Hotels.   ALL PHOTOS BY DANIEL COSTON

The American Diabetes Association's 2017 Fathers of the Year: Kieth Cockrell of Bank of America, Chad Utermark of Nucor and Vinay Patel of SREE Hotels. ALL PHOTOS BY DANIEL COSTON

Since 2001, the annual Father of the Year Awards gala has been a bright spot on Charlotte's social calendar. Presented by the Father's Day Council, the fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association honors top businessmen who are also outstanding fathers. Honorees over the past 16 years include Brett Carter, Jesse Cureton, Al de Molina, Rob Engel, Carlos Evans, Alvaro Gurdian, Michael Marsicano, Felix Sabates and Richard Vinroot.

 Dashing dads: The honorees make their entrance in style. 

Dashing dads: The honorees make their entrance in style. 

This year's honorees were Kieth Cockrell of Bank of America; Vinay Patel of SREE Hotels; and Chad Utermark of Nucor. They were celebrated during a reception, dinner and awards ceremony at the Westin attended by their families, friends, business associates and supporters of the American Diabetes Association. The Master of Ceremonies for the black tie optional evening was WBTV anchor Jamie Boll.

 Kieth Cockrell with one of the most important women in his life, his beloved former teacher and mentor Juanita Cooke. 

Kieth Cockrell with one of the most important women in his life, his beloved former teacher and mentor Juanita Cooke. 

 Vinay Patel surrounded by his family. 

Vinay Patel surrounded by his family. 

 Chad Utermark accepts his award. 

Chad Utermark accepts his award. 

 Dianne Roth, Jamie Boll and Pat Higgins. 

Dianne Roth, Jamie Boll and Pat Higgins. 

The event was also a toast to Dianne Roth, director of development for the American Diabetes Association Central Carolinas, who retired a few weeks after the fundraiser following 21 years with the nonprofit. She spearheaded the successful event over the years and in the process won the admiration and friendship of many Charlotte's most prominent businessmen and their families.

 Dianne Roth with her honorary Father of the Year Award. 

Dianne Roth with her honorary Father of the Year Award. 

She was surprised by a wonderful tribute given by our Father’s Day Council and the past honorees. Co-chair Pat Phillips presented her with an honorary Father of the Year Award and made the announcement that $25,000 for the American Diabetes Association was raised in honor.

"Being a part of this prestigious group is the greatest professional honor I could have ever imagined, and I am truly touched," said Dianne. "It’s been a privilege to have worked for such an important organization these past 21 years, and most of all to have had the opportunity to get to know so many wonderful business leaders, fathers, and their families in the process. Many have become good friends. I am so blessed to have been in a position to meet wonderful, caring people while at the same time working to support the American Diabetes Association." 

 Leslie and Bruce Schlernitzauer.

Leslie and Bruce Schlernitzauer.

 Future Fathers of the Year? 

Future Fathers of the Year?