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James Nicholson, former U.S. secretary of veterans affairs, will be the keynote speaker at the 14th annual “Making a Difference Dinner – A Celebration of Catholic Schools” today in Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.

The event begins with a 5:45 p.m. reception, followed by dinner at 6:45.

Proceeds benefit needs-based tuition assistance for students attending Catholic elementary schools in the eight counties of Western New York.

For the 2013-14 school year, 930 students received diocesan scholarship assistance effort, with an average grant of $1,012.

Last year’s “Making a Difference Dinner” raised about 35 percent of these funds.

Bishop Emeritus of Buffalo Edward U. Kmiec and Regents Chancellor Emeritus Robert M. Bennett will be awarded the Bishop’s Medal, and Mary Queen of Angels School physical education teacher Michael Wojcicki will receive the Making a Difference Award.