IF A great dad is measured in sweat and sacrifice, then Domenico Nardi is a colossus.
The 84-year-old, who with wife Francesca raised 13 children, was on Thursday night crowned Griffith's inaugural Father of the Year in a ceremony at Griffith Library.
His story of selflessness began in southern Italy, where a desire for a better life for his first three children propelled him to leave his family and board a boat to far-flung Australia.
He landed on August 27, 1952 almost 60 years ago to the day and immediately found work in southern NSW, helping build the new Burrinjuck Dam. Upon completion of the dam, he worked in the cane fields of Queensland before saving enough money to move his family to their new home in Sydney.
In 1962, they moved to Griffith, paralleling the migrant experience of many Italian families. In accepting Thursday night's award, an emotional Mr Nardi said his 13 children, 60 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren were a source of enormous pride.
"It is very good to win this and I couldn't have done it without my wife," he said.
"It was very hard bringing the family up there were debts here, debts there but I don't regret it."
Mr Nardi's son Joe, who nominated his father for the award, said it was a "small miracle" his parents were able to support such a large family.
"We were always well-dressed and well-fed even though we didn't have much money I can't believe they did it," he said. "Times were tough and he made huge sacrifices ... we're a very close family because of it."
The family marked yesterday's Father Day with a dinner at home.
The award was run by Griffith's Lifesource Church, and supported by The Area News, Griffith Connections and associated sponsors. Runner-up was Livio Andrighetto, while Oscar Bandiera was second runner-up.
Felix Sebastian took out the primary school-age section.
"The highlight of the awards was to hear the stories of the love between father and child," Lifesource senior minister and organiser Rod Bortolin said.
"The smiles on the faces of father and children alike when a name was read out was something to see. "Some stories shared on the night brought tears of joy and compassion and for me it confirmed why we started doing the awards in the first place."
Runner up for the main prize was Livio Andrighetto, while Oscar Bandiera was awarded second runner up.
Felix Sebastian took out the primary-school age section.