For its annual gala, the U.S.O. raised more than $1 million with help from a record number of guests.
A record-breaking 900 attendees donned their finest military and black-tie attire Wednesday at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel to pay tribute to America’s men and women in uniform at the annual U.S.O. Gala and Service Hero Awards alongside chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff admiral Mike Mullen, actor Gary Sinise, and country crooner Trace Adkins. Chaired this year by Dave McIntyre, head of TriWest Healthcare Alliance, the event raised more than $1.1 million.
The U.S.O. stayed true to its history, focusing the V.I.P. reception and dinner on the programs the U.S.O. provides, allowing guests to record a message for the troops, sign banners that will be sent to troops, and view a mock command outpost complete with camouflage netting.
Event consulting firm Hayes & Associates helped ensure the evening went smoothly as guests wined, dined, and saluted the U.S.O.’s more than 60 years of service to military personnel and their families.
Guests mingled and enjoyed passed appetizers of chicken satay and mini crab cakes in a mushroom cup before entering the main ballroom, where a massive U.S.O. banner hung from the ceiling. With tables draped in brown, copper, and cream silk linens provided by Perfect Settings, the colors were offset by an array of white varietals in centerpieces by Spot Floral Design pairing roses, hydrangeas, and greens.
The evening's dinner service, catered by the hotel, included a walnut raspberry salad with goat cheese and wild mushroom soup to start; a main course of asparagus, sea bass, and filet mignon paired with fingerling potatoes and a poached tomato; and mini cinnamon cheesecake and banana cake with mocha ice cream drizzled with caramel.
Additional dessert came courtesy of Duff Goldman, owner of Baltimore's Charm City Cakes and the focus of the Food Network series Ace of Cakes, who baked a cake depicting a U.S.O. mess hall alongside a house back home.
Hargrove was charged with staging the event, which showcased a main stage where comedian Lewis Black acted as M.C. Freelancer Mitch Curtis was the production manager, using lighting by Atmosphere, video by CPR, and sound by ESP.
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