Sunday, May 03, 2009
The 2009 Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Gala
The Winning Bid? $8000!! And every dollar raised was heading toward the continuing community support efforts of The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation throughout Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland.
The now infamous Adam Dunn "NATINALS" Jersey (mistakenly provided by Majestic Athletics and worn in an actual game a few weeks back) was auctioned off live last night at the 4th Annual Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Gala held at The Gaylord National Resort in Prince Georges County, Maryland. The "GOING, GOING, GONE!! Sold for $8000!!" commentary by "Colonel Bill"--Auctioneer Bill Billingsley--bringing the house down in The Ballroom. The final value bringing a near Standing Ovation from the over 500 elegantly gowned ladies and black tied men on hand.
The now annual get together to help raise needed funding for The Children's National Medical Center, The Boys & Girls Clubs Of Greater Washington, The building of the soon to become D.C. Baseball Academy, Rebuilding Together of Washington, DC and The Neighborhood Initiatives Projects. Cornerstones of The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation's work to assist those in need.
As is always the case, nearly every coach, player and front office personnel for Our Washington Nationals was in attendance. The opportunity for fans of our team and supporters of The Dream Foundation's work to have some personal one-on-one time with Our Major League Team. Coming off a fine victory early in the day over The St.Louis Cardinals--everyone was in a good mood for partying.
All the while given the opportunity to bid on the many and various auction items on display. All raised funds going directly to The Dream Foundation's undertakings. First came the reception, where a few hundred items were up for grabs. The Pre-Party where Hors d'oeuvres and Cocktails were served while everyone mingled for a full hour.
The precursor to The Main Event--The Evening Program where Radio Broadcasters Charlie Slowes & Dave Jageler introduced version 5.0 of Our Washington Nationals one by one--in their usual grand style.
Followed up by Opening & Welcoming remarks from MASN Broadcasters Bob Carpenter and Rob Dibble. Whom had the honor of introducing The Chair of The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation--Marla Lerner Tanenbaum. Mrs. Tanenbaum highlighting the many achievements and aspirations of The Dream Foundation. Public endeavors for the good of many others.
After dinner was served, The Live Auction went into full swing and that's where Adam Dunn's "NATINALS" Jersey was sold off, along with a good many other high dollar group packages. Some of those packages included a Private Clinic for 4 Children with 2 Nationals Players. A Golf Outing at TPC Avenel, Billy Joel & Elton John Concert Suite at Nationals Park, Curly "W" 18 Karat Gold Cufflink set and even a Build-A-Bear Party for 4 children and 2 Adults--among the many other Live Auction items. Total estimated values of these items over $32,000.
Plenty of mingling throughout the night. Players and Staff spread out for dinner--assigned to selected tables to meet and greet the many patrons. A party that went deep into the night--without our players and coaching staff--as they retired early to prepare for Sunday's game against The St.Louis Cardinals.
Last year, The Dream Foundation Gala raised over $600,000 dollars. The hope for 2009 is for that amount to be reached again, and hopefully exceeded. Final numbers to be announced in the near future.
After the formal program ended, there was a private VIP After-Party held at The National Pastime Bar. The Sports Motif Adorned Food & Spirits Restaurant where deserts and drinks were available to anyone attending.
Some highlights for The African Queen and I:
Team President Stan Kasten and his wife--Helen--looking quite sharp.
Our Manager Manny Acta and his sister, Anayma. As always, The Most Charismatic Of Men was at his best.
Wonderful to see The Reigning Miss District Of Columbia--Kate Grinold, whom Sohna and I first met last June at The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society National Capital Region Man and Woman Of The Year Gala.
"The Boys Of Summer"--Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler looking mighty sharp in their tuxedos. Funny as always, telling jokes and having a good time.
Ronnie Belliard stopping dead in his tracks, while eating an appetizer, placing it down on a nearby table and, literally, jumping over to greet Sohna again. Together, they talked for some time. Belliard, quite the gracious man.
Elijah Dukes sees us speaking with Garrett Mock and his wife--Emily--and goes out of his way to mention to Sohna how wonderful her evening attire was. "I was just saying (to Marquis Grissom) how great that dress is," stated Dukes. "Will that earn me any brownie points??!!" (Cracking everybody up within earshot of his comment.) Whereupon Elijah and Sohna get into a very nice conversation about how Our Number 34 says he is working hard to be a more complete person. Growing Up--It was a great chat--for both of them.
Serious stuff, which becomes funny when I mention to Asst. GM Mike Rizzo how, whether I agree with all his moves, or not, I love his decisiveness. Sohna adding in: "And you scare me sometimes!!" Rizzo replies: "Yeah, I scare myself sometimes too!!" (laughing) "But we have to make changes to get better." And he's right--which leads to a terrific conversation about how difficult, as fans, it us for us to see players we like get traded or released. Mike Rizzo saying he understands.
Seeing Jesus Flores grow up before our very eyes. When we first met Jesus in Florida, two years ago, he was just starting his career with Our Washington Nationals and learning english as a second language. We were able to converse then thanks to my limited spanish. But now--Flores has become very outgoing and always a joy to speak with. That young man has a fire in his belly to improve. And Sohna and I appreciate his desire very much.
Of course, the always smiling Wil Nieves and his lovely wife, Yourmarie, were on hand--chatting it up with us for a while.
Mr. Enthusiasm Himself--Julian Tavarez, sitting right next us at dinner, enthralled with Sohna and hanging out for quite some time--talking about baseball, having fun, being different (in a good sort of way) and mentioning why he always shows his emotions. "I am passionate about the game. I love baseball and every moment out on the field is special to me." You have got to love that quote. Julian Tavarez is quite the interesting guy.
And finally--Our Franchise Player--Ryan Zimmerman coming over to see The African Queen and talk for about 10 minutes.
Sohna and I had a great time and look forward to attending The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Gala again in 2010.
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