By Walter Nicholls Posted February 13, 2009, 2:01 PM EST
WASHINGTON, D.C. The color scheme is predictable when the invitation reads “Valentine’s Party.” And there was no break with tradition at Wednesday night’s seventh annual Foundation Fighting Blindness “For the Love of Sight” awards dinner for 300 guests (at $1,000 per ticket) at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium.
“Oh, yes. It was red-red-red, hearts-hearts-hearts, in lighting, linens, and chairs,” said planner Dina Beaumont of DMB Consulting Group.
This year, the nonprofit honored author and songwriter Jennifer Rothschild, who suffers from a rare degenerative eye disease, with its 2009 Hope and Spirit Award. Past events have raised more than $2.5 million to fund retinal research.
This year's budget was equal to that in 2008, despite recession woes. Beaumont said that in any year “costs are a concern,” with the maximum amount possible going to benefit the foundation. “Although it’s a chicken dinner, it had special effects,” said Beaumont. “We hired who we think is the best: Susan Gage Catering.” The seared chicken was served topped with cracked green olives and preserved lemon. Dessert was passion fruit and raspberry meringue tarts.
Journalist Cokie Roberts and her husband, George Washington University professor Steve Roberts, served as the M.C.s for the two-hour evening, which began with a 7 p.m. reception. “We always pride ourselves on being finished by 9 p.m.,” said Beaumont. “A lot of people in this town don’t like long black-tie affairs.”
Sponsors included Wal-Mart, Federal Financial Analytics, Washington Capitals, and Northrop Grumman.
Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly identified the Foundation Fighting Blindness.