By Adele Chapin Posted November 15, 2011, 2:30 PM EST
WASHINGTON, D.C. Fight for Children hosted its 22nd annual Fight Night on Thursday at the Washington Hilton, once again bringing in cigars, boxing, and steaks in prehistoric portions for 1,800 male guests, with $2 million raised this year to benefit low-income children in D.C. As per usual, the event was chock full of entertainment, including a performance by the Redskins Cheerleaders, a laser show set to Guns N' Roses's “Welcome to the Jungle,” and a set by funk band the Commodores.
As is tradition, Fight Night ran concurrently with its sister gala, Knock Out Abuse, a dinner for 650 female guests at the Ritz-Carlton. André Wells went with a Saint-Tropez theme, hanging blue shell chandeliers from the ceilings, covering tables in teal sequined fabric, and installing check-in tables with nautical, blue and white striped awnings. “There are all sorts of different blues. It does remind you of the beach and the Mediterranean,” said Knock Out Abuse gala co-founder Cheryl Masri, who founded the event with Jill Sorenson.
Knock Out Abuse’s program honored Maryland Lieutenant Governor Anthony G. Brown and former prosecutor and novelist Linda Fairstein, raising $541,000 to fight domestic violence. And the Redskins cheerleaders weren’t the only ones showing some skin that evening—at the live auction, N.F.L. running back Clinton Portis stripped down to encourage bidding for a date with him at Café Milano, and during the reception, male models posed for photos wearing nothing but swimsuits, sunglasses, and smiles.
Both Knock Out Abuse and Fight Night have developed loyal guest lists over the years. “There’s a lot of camaraderie,” Masri said of her gala. “It’s a bonding experience. It’s all females, talking about a cause that’s been swept under the carpet for so many years.” Over at Fight Night, organizers mailed engraved wine bottle openers as thank-you gifts to 75 guests who’ve attended every year for the past 10 years. “It’s absolutely a tradition for these guys,” said Fight for Children director of external relations Jeff Travers.
For the first time, Fight Night chairman James L. Jones III created a Fight Night Leadership committee, helping drive sponsors and ticket sales. Other new elements included a performance of “God Bless America” by students of the San Miguel School from the boxing ring, as well as the donation of a portion of the $75,000 proceeds from the live auction of a “Salute to Heroes” custom chopper to benefit an education fund for the children of fallen soldiers.
After the event wrapped up at midnight, per tradition, the Fight Night gents and the Knock Out Abuse ladies convened at the Ritz-Carlton for a joint after-party. Fuel came in the form of two bars and passed snacks like pigs in a blanket and quesadillas, and guests danced (and even limbo-ed) to pop hits and electronica from DJ Donna D’Cruz.