When Nick Katsoris ’91 first pursued the idea of writing a children’s book about a fluffy little lamb named Loukoumi, he did so with one child in mind: his then-infant son, Dean. Fourteen years later, more than 100,000 children across the country celebrated National Make a Difference with Loukoumi Day by performing good deeds on Saturday, Oct. 27.
The day’s festivities will continue Saturday, Nov. 3, when the Loukoumi Foundation’s “Good Deed Bus” makes stops in Queens to clean up Astoria Park; at Fordham University’s football game to raise money and make cards for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; and on Broadway to announce a collaboration with the producers of the musical Come From Away, set in the week after the 9/11 attacks, and present them with the Loukoumi Foundation’s Make A Difference Award. Children will also bring cards that they have made for 9/11 families to the last stop.
The rapid development of the Loukoumi series from simple beginnings in Katsoris’ kitchen—inspired by the traditional Greek powdered candy called loukoumi— to eight books, a foundation that encourages children to serve others and dream big, and the countless contributions of kids continues to astonish Katsoris.
“It’s important to teach kids at a young age to be kind to one another, treat others with respect, do good deeds, and follow the simple lessons in these books,” said Katsoris, who in addition to being a successful author serves as general counsel of the Red Apple Group. “When I see a kid take the lessons from these books and do something amazing with it, there’s nothing like it.”
Katsoris’ Loukoumi books have shared important lessons with children ages 4 to 8 about performing good deeds, protecting the environment, anti-bullying, and gift giving. He also published Loukoumi’s Celebrity Cookbook featuring favorite recipes from Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Oprah, and Justin Timberlake. In the process, Katsoris has achieved his dream of becoming a successful author—a dream he first pursued post-law school with a legal thriller called Crimes of Fire. He wrote that book during a six-week break after finishing his clerkship with the late Hon. Nick Tsoucalas of the U.S. Court of International Trade.
“Never in a million years did I think my love of writing would lead to where it did,” Katsoris marveled.
Katsoris’ first Loukoumi book, in which the lamb gets lost while traveling to visit its grandparents in Greece, received a positive write-up in the New York Times and reached the No. 4 spot on Barnes and Nobles’ bestseller list. From there, Katsoris realized he had something to build upon. The next book, Growing Up With Loukoumi, laid the foundation of the annual Dream Day, in which Katsoris’ foundation helps realize a child’s dream, such as being a NASA engineer. Subsequent Loukoumi books have featured well-known narrators, including actors Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Aniston.
The National Loukoumi Make A Difference Day, now in its tenth year, has continued to reach more children and expand into new areas as more books have appeared. For the last two years, Loukoumi has collected $1 donations at Fordham University football games with the goal of funding a literacy program and treatment room at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. In addition, the “Good Deed Bus” is making stops on Nov. 17 in Chicago, and Katsoris hopes to expand it into new cities next year.
Katsoris’ work with the Loukoumi Foundation has emphasized in his professional life as a litigator the need for people, particularly perceived adversaries, to treat each other with dignity.
“The way the world is, we need more civility and to treat others with kindness and respect,” Katsoris reflected. “This starts from a young age. If kids learn to treat one another with respect, it will become a way of life.”
Katsoris credits Fordham for its major impact on what he has accomplished with Loukoumi. He is a “Triple Ram”—a graduate of Fordham Prep, Fordham College, and Fordham Law— and his father, Constantine “Gus” Katsoris ’57, is a legendary Fordham Law professor.
“The Fordham professors and the Jesuit teachings of Fordham helped put me on a path to what I am now doing with the Loukoumi Foundation,” Katsoris said. “I am very grateful to Fordham not only for my education but also for all the support it has provided me through the years.”