Sunday, October 31, 2010

The 5th ziMS Foundation Gala & Golf Tournament In Virginia Beach

"I can recall how five years ago when we started this foundation none of us knew exactly where this would all lead." stated Keith Zimmerman. "And now, looking out at this packed ballroom and knowing all of you have come here in support of our cause is....well let me just very, very grateful our entire family is."

Ryan Zimmerman's father was on stage in the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hilton Ballroom on Friday night, October 29th, addressing over 300 supporters, sponsors and volunteers. All of whom had posted up for the 5th ziMS Foundation Gala & Golf Tournament to help The Zimmerman Family in their quest to find a cure for Multiple Sclerosis. Dedicated to Ryan's Mom, Cheryl, who was diagnosed with MS in 1995, The ziMS Foundation's grassroots beginnings has now benefitted the Washington D.C. National MS Society Chapter, The University of Virginia Department of Neurology, The Hampton Roads MS Society and The Arlington YMCA to a tune of well over $500,000 in funding.

This charity organization has become such a success, it has not only found a foothold, but is beginning to make a difference for those suffering from this dreaded disease. You may recall how this past August, 2010, the ziMS Foundation hosted their first Washington, D.C. area event: "A Night At The Park". A Nationals Park fundraiser that brought in over $40,000 for charity. The largest single day philanthropic event in the charity's short history.

But it's in Virginia Beach, Virginia (Ryan's hometown) where everything started.

"My parent's drive this effort. Our friends and family do much of the footwork, but we couldn't do this without all of you," stated Ryan Zimmerman on Friday night before the assembled crowd at dinner. "We can't thank all of you enough for caring and giving up your weekend to spend some time with us. So please enjoy yourselves and let your friends know what a good time you had here tonight and tomorrow at the Golf Tournament."

Ryan making this statement moments before the ziMS Foundation handed over a $150,000 donation check to The University Of Virginia Department of Neurology. The largest gift ever given by the charity.

As usual, a VIP reception kicked off the two-day event on Friday night at 5PM. Sponsors and special guests were invited to meet with Ryan and take the first shots at bidding on the many silent auction items. Hor d'oevres and drinks were served as The Amazing Magic Dave performed his many tricks for the second year in a row and a string assemble provided the pre-dinner atmosphere music. Regular ticket holders joined the festivities beginning at 6PM.

Once again, some of the silent auction goodies up for grabs were quite impressive. If you enjoy sports memorabilia, the signed jerseys available to bid on included those from Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Albert Pujols among many, many others. Zimmy also made available his specially made, game used, Rawlings Gold Trimmed 3rd Baseman's Mitt. This one-off design by Rawlings is produced for reigning Gold Glove Winners each season. With the Gala happening in conjunction with Halloween weekend, many of the jerseys were adorned with Halloween masks.

That glove though was downright beautiful.

A Clay Walker signed guitar, HD Plasma Screens, vacations to Port St. Lucie, Florida and Nags Head, North Carolina, Bed & Breakfast stays, restaurant certificates, even gardening tools, rounded out the over 100 items up for bid.

For the third straight year, the Live Auction included a specially made for the ziMS Foundation Ryan Zimmerman signed surfboard. A weekend trip to The Atlantis Resort in The Bahamas, roundtrip airfare to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2011 to see Our Washington Nationals take on The Brewers. Included in this baseball package was dinner at Ryan Braun's Milwaukee based restaurant and a signed jersey from The Brew Crew's All-Star. The Washington Redskins donated game tickets to an upcoming Skins Home Game versus The Tampa Bay Buccaneers that included pre-game passes and signed memorabilia from Redskin players Chris Cooley and Trent Williams. Attendees also could bid on a Fishing Trip and a Nationals Park Game Experience which included four tickets in Presidents Club, Parking, On-Field Batting Practice passes, signed Ryan Zimmerman memorabilia and a "Meet & Greet" with Washington's Franchise Player.

The African Queen & I were fortunate enough to take home a personally autographed Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez Washington Nationals engraved baseball bat. We were in the running for Zimmy's Glove until the final call, but got beat out at the buzzer--sadly.

After dinner was served, Hotcakes, a well known Tidewater area dance band, provided music for everyone wishing to dance the night away until the 11PM close.

Players in attendance for the Gala included former National and now Pittsburgh Pirate--Joel Hanrahan, and Ryan Zimmerman's Washington teammates: Tyler Clippard, Craig Stammen and John Lannan. Nats Hitting Instructor Rick Eckstein joined the festivities on Saturday for The Golf Tournament--as did Tidewater area native, and New York Met All-Star, David Wright.

Once again, Sohna and I were happy to participate in the Gala--as well as The Golf Tournament on Saturday. In fact, the highlight of the entire weekend for us occurred at Red Wing Lake Golf Course where one of those moments just happen that you come to cherish for a long, long time.

More on that moment and the ziMS Foundation's Golf Tournament coming tomorrow on Nats320.

All Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved

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