Each year for the past 28 years, Mike Lamana can be found in the kitchen at St. Joseph’s Academy on a spring evening in Lent, organizing and heading up a loyal team of volunteers for the SJA Athletic Department’s annual Seafood Supper. This event provides critical funding each year for major purchases outside of the Athletic Department’s budget.
Mike and his crew, many of whom have been involved since the very first Seafood Supper, have spearheaded the tremendous growth of the fundraiser, which has benefited Academy student-athletes in countless ways.
Mike was drawn to volunteer service at SJA because his daughter, Dani, was active in athletics. “We have always been supportive of our children, so it was natural to become involved,” Mike said.
In 1989, then-Athletic Director Kathy Saichuk was looking for a way to raise needed funds for her department. Granted permission by the administration to host a dinner, Kathy sought out Mike, who was known for his volunteer service at Catholic High School. Mike is a lifetime member of the CHS Men’s Club and has served on its executive board since 1989. “When Kathy started talking about a benefit dinner for the athletic department, I wanted to be a part of this worthwhile event,” Mike said.
A 1964 graduate of Catholic High School who was recognized as a Bruin Man of the Year, Mike was a four-year member of the Bears’ track and field team. He was named CHS’ Most Valuable Player in Field Events following the 1964 season, in which he participated in the state track and field championship as a shot putter. Indeed, he held the CHS shot put record for 10 years.
Mike helped coach field events at SJA from 1989 through 1997 and officiated SJA and CHS track meets. He has also served as a volunteer with Junior Olympics, as a track coach for St. Aloysius and as a basketball coach for the CYO and BREC. As such, he knows the importance of supplemental funds for athletics.
“School budgets are tight, especially when it comes to their athletic departments, so fundraising events play a key role in making purchases possible,” Mike said. “Seafood Supper has been important to me because it helps support SJA athletics and the school overall. With Seafood Supper monies, athletic department administrators over the years have been able to buy new uniforms, video equipment, travel bags and other items, ensuring that SJA athletes are on equal footing with other high schools.
“It’s very gratifying to look back over the years and know that the hard work and time of all the volunteers have made this event so successful,” Mike added.
For Mike, the most enjoyable part of the yearly undertaking is the people he shares it with. “There are so many supportive workers, from the SJA coaches, staff and parents to our Catholic Men’s Club members, who give so much to this night,” Mike said. “The comradery that is built and maintained by sharing in a common activity has led to many lasting friendships.”
A 1969 graduate of Northeast University School of Pharmacy, Mike spent 48 years as a pharmacist, retiring on June 3, 2017. He worked 24 years with Kmart Pharmacy and 20 years as a pharmacy manager for Albertson’s, serving as pharmacy manager for 15 years. He’s also been involved in the real estate business and his family’s property rental management company. But his most rewarding and enjoyable “job,” he said, is volunteering.
In addition to SJA and CHS, a number of organizations are near and dear to his heart, including St. Aloysius School and Church and the Knights of Columbus. Also benefitting from his time and talents over the years are the USS Kidd, LSU Burden Rural Life Museum and the local Freedom Walk across America to honor military veterans and the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011. His son, Lt. Michael “Scotty” Lamana, USN, died on 9/11 during the attack on the Pentagon. Mike also serves as a Eucharistic minister for the homebound in St. Aloysius Parish.
Mike was named SJA’s Mother Seton Award winner in 1996 and St. Aloysius’ Mother Seton Award winner in 2010 for outstanding volunteer service and selfless dedication in his home, school and church community. He was inducted into the CHS Hall of Fame in 2013.
“I have been very blessed in my life, with a wonderful family and great friends, and I feel the need to give back and repay what has been given to me,” Mike said.
Mike is married to Wanda M. Lamana. They have two daughters, Andi Lamana Chatelain (married to Jude Chatelain) and Dani Lamana, a 1992 graduate of St. Joseph’s Academy. They have three grandsons, Brandon, Michael and Joseph Chatelain, and an adopted daughter, Arlene Molliere.