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Matt Dentino Executive Producer - Driving Change Podcast

I come from a large Italian family. I’m number seven in the line of ten kids!

My dad knew that raising a family that large would result in a trade-off of valuable time at home with them, and as a very small kid, I remember him being gone a lot. He could be out days to weeks at a time as he worked his way up the corporate ladder at Caterpillar Tractor Company. When I was around five years old, my dad decided we needed an activity, something we could do as a family that would help build a strong family bond. Coming from a long line of entertainers as he did, he decided to start The Dancing Dentino Family Act.

Every Tuesday night, Dad and Mom would load us all up in the VW micro-minivan and cart us off to the dance studio where Great Aunt Rose and Great Aunt Gene – both vaudeville veterans – would spend the next two hours teaching us tap, ballet, jazz, tumbling, and an assortment of vaudeville routines. Every Saturday morning at 8:00, Mom would wake us up to a big family breakfast, and then we would grab our tap shoes and head to the basement. Dad would work with the older kids on a section first, and when they had it down, he would pair them with one of our younger kids. We would work together as Dad would float between the pairs and help.
I did not realize it then, but what I CAUGHT from my dad through that was far more important than anything I was taught during those rehearsals. I caught the three fundamental principles of my dad‘s life: Family: the most important relationship you’ll ever have on this earth. Service to others: the most important thing you will do while you are here on this earth. Dedication and Hard Work: the most important thing you can be known for while you are here on this earth.

What’s more, my dad’s dedication to his family can be described by a term that I have now come to adopt from Zig Ziglar: “persistent consistency.” He was persistently consistent, every Tuesday, every Saturday without fail. Moreover, when he was out of town, the older kids jumped in and kept it going.

Ultimately, we traveled all over the Midwest singing, dancing, doing magic tricks, telling old vaudeville jokes, and entertaining people. We even performed with the Osmond Brothers once. However, the point of the family act was not to become the next Osmond Family. It was to deepen the relationship within the family.

When my dad passed away some years ago, I was fortunate enough to be there as the end was coming. I was standing just to the right of his hospital bed; he was lying there with his eyes closed. All of a sudden, Dad opens his eyes. He looks up at the ceiling with a look of peace – and maybe accomplishment – on his face. Then he closes his eyes for the last time. I guess out of instinct, I reached down and kissed him on that prickly cheek one last time. My dad left a legacy in that life well lived! A legacy based on three main principles: Family, Service, and Dedication. I do what I do to carry on that legacy to the best of my ability.

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