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When Under Armour signed to sponsor the boxing benefit Fight Night, executives made it clear they wanted to increase the fund-raising take for Fight for Children’s work promoting children’s education for low-income families. On Thursday night, they brought out the big guns at the Washington Hilton both in terms of entertainment as well in setting an event fund-raising record of nearly $4 million.
In past years, the boxing event with a nearly all-male guest list garnered around $2 million. This year the event surpassed its $3 million goal even before the live and silent auctions by increasing the entertainment and overall experience for guests.
“One of the charges that Under Armour gave us was to make the evening nonstop exciting from when guests walked in to when they leave,” said Jeff Travers, Fight for Children director of external relations.
From additional entertainment elements like painted models welcoming the 1,600 guests—including 200 V.I.P. donors—and a silk aerialist at the beginning of the night, to performances from a video DJ and headliner John Legend, the energy of the event remained high throughout the evening.
Planners also rethought the evening's timeline. Most noticeably, the boxing matches—previously the culmination of the evening—started during the dinner service, traditionally a downtime at any event that can create the kind of lull that organizers wanted to avoid.
“Fight Night is modeled on the old-time smoker events where you would have something big like boxing going on during dinner anyway, so the response has been really positive,” Travers said.
While Fight Night caters to the male set, its sister event Knock Out Abuse Against Women hosts 650 ladies during the same time frame at the Ritz Carlton, Washington. The 20th annual gala, focused on promoting awareness and raising more than $560,000 for victims of domestic violence and their children, once again turned to Events by André Wells to bring its roaring 1920s theme to life. Inspired by The Great Gatsby's protagonist Daisy Buchanan, Wells designed the space with a pearl, blush, eggshell, and gold color palette accented with sequined linens, crystals, white flowers, and candle accents courtesy of Design Foundry and Amaryllis. Models dressed in vintage-style suits and flapper attire.
The event also saw CNN's Wolf Blitzer presiding over the auction, remarks from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and a DJ set from Questlove.
As is tradition, the gentlemen of Fight Night headed over to the Ritz to join the ladies for the joint after-party, this year featuring singer Eric Benét.