Peter Koch can sure get people to turn out.
He did it Thursday night at the West Valley Inn, but this time, instead of taking the dance floor, he sat in an overstuffed chair that looked like it had just come off the floor at Cardi’s.
It probably had come from Cardi’s; among those turning out were the Cardis, Nick, Ron and Pete. Former Channel 12 anchor Karen Adams came out of retirement to be there and, of course, there was a host of others, including pols like Congressman James Langevin and Mayor Scott Avedisian.
The occasion was a roast and toast.
Peter was getting roasted but he was also toasted by the Rhode Island Mentoring Partnership, MetLife and MetLife Auto and Home; Robert Bushell, director of elementary schools; Mario Hilario of NBC Channel 10; and John Howell of the Warwick Beacon.
Peter set a standard when he donned a matador’s outfit and won the first Dancing with the Stars of Mentoring in 2007. That is, he set the standard for totally out-of-the-box dancing.
But his passion for mentoring and generous support of the mentoring program earned him the distinction of the “Man of the Hour” who has been mentoring for 20 years and serves as the organization’s treasurer.
A few barbs went Peter’s way, and there were some bawdy limericks via video from Peter’s friends at Skibo Castle in Scotland (Peter is a bit of a traveler when it comes to golf). Also, with verbal bouquets and some thorns came videos from Peter’s buddies at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, like nine-time winner of the PGA and Senior Tour Brad Faxon and Joe Theisman, winner of Superbowl XVII as quarterback for the Washington Redskins.
Then there were the in-person comments from the Cardis, who came armed with videos that featured Koch in their television ads. Peter won cameo appearances as auction prizes for fundraisers.
Avedisian and Langevin spoke of the importance of mentoring and, in the spirit of the evening, threw a few jabs. Channel 10’s Gene Valicenti, who served as emcee, had fun with Peter, too, saying it was Peter’s network of contacts who put then Governor Don Carcieri in touch with Curt Shilling.
Peter’s daughter, Kelly, told some family stories, but before she could get started, Peter beat her to the microphone and said,
“There’s no compelling reason you have to believe what you hear tonight.”
Closing out the roast, Earl Tillinghast told some stories of his longtime personal friend.
Achievement awards also went to Met Life for being a leader in mentoring; Bushell, who realized the value of the program and made it a foundation of the Warwick School program; Howell as the founding chair of the program and board chair for 20 years; and Hilario for his participation in Dancing with the Stars and for airing public service announcements for mentoring.
True to his commitment, when Peter finally got the microphone, he talked of the importance of the program.
“You can roast me, but you also need to thank them,” he said of the sponsors; Coastway Community Bank, Ed Mauro and Karen Adams Mauro, Koch Eye Associates and Amica Insurance.