America Supports You: Ball Benefits Wounded Servicemembers
By John Valceanu
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 18, 2005 A host of celebrities is slated to turn out Jan. 20 to honor America's wounded servicemembers during the Red, White & Blue Inaugural Ball, a benefit event to be held at the Mellon Auditorium here.
Wounded servicemembers receiving treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in here and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., along with their family members, will be honored during the event.
"We're thrilled about the fact that we are able to invite these wounded servicemembers who need our support and deserve our appreciation," said Pam Garfield, a director of Citizens Helping Heroes, a nonprofit organization that helped to organize the event. "For some of these servicemembers, the ball will be the first time they've been able to leave the hospital. Being able to honor them with a special night is a real joy for us."
Citizens Helping Heroes, which is dedicated to supporting America's military families, organized the ball with Veterans Foundation Inc., another nonprofit organization that raises awareness and support for those who serve and those who have served in the military.
The cost for the wounded servicemembers and their family members is absorbed by the sale of VIP tickets. All additional proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the United Service Organizations of Metropolitan Washington, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, and the Fisher House. In addition, well-known American artist Peter Max has donated his famous "Flag with a Heart" painting, which will be auctioned to benefit the three organizations.
Television personality Geraldo Rivera will host the benefit event. Celebrity guests include musicians Nile Rodgers and CHIC, Michael Bolton, and the team of Kimaya and Monty Seward.
"The sacrifice made by our servicemembers and their families is one we can never repay," said renowned musician Nile Rodgers, who will be a featured entertainer during the event. "They are forever in our hearts, and that is why we are coming together for this very special evening."
Retired Marine Gunnery Sgt. R. Lee Ermey, the actor famous for playing the drill instructor in "Full Metal Jacket," will add to the entertainment, as will presidential impersonator Steve Bridges as "Mr. President." In addition, a number of sports stars will attend the event to show their support for the troops.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and other government officials are scheduled to attend.
TriWest Healthcare Alliance, a military healthcare provider, is the primary corporate sponsor of the event. Union Pacific and Military.com also are sponsoring the event.
Additional sponsors include Union Pacific, Cox Communications and Oshkosh.
A limited number of tickets for the event are still available. Servicemembers may purchase tickets at a discounted price of $175. Regular tickets cost $350 and VIP tickets cost $1,000.
VIP ticket holders are entitled to a special reception and photo opportunities with celebrities and special guests.
People interested in purchasing tickets may call (202) 244-2121 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.