Annual ‘Hope Gala’ Surpasses $1 Million Goal, Benefitting The Children’s Inn at NIH

6th annual event raises over $1 million to benefit seriously ill children

BETHESDA, Md. — June 12, 2019 — The 2019 Evening for Hope Gala, hosted by The Children’s Inn at NIH on May 11, reached a new record of $1,058,520 in donations. The proceeds raised will support The Inn’s mission to provide a “place like home” to seriously ill children participating in groundbreaking research at the National Institutes of Health.

“This event unites a caring community of business leaders and government officials who want to make a difference for the brave children who participate in clinical research studies at the NIH,” said Todd Pantezzi, gala chairman and vice president of federal health business development at Perspecta. “It takes a team effort to reach this milestone, and I am thankful for everyone who made it happen – from the planning committee to the sponsors, to those guests who bought raffle tickets even though they couldn’t attend. Thank you for extending a kind hand to these children and their families.”

Speakers included NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., and broadcast personality and two-time Emmy Award winner Tony Perkins. Inn residents Avery and Autumn also shared touching tributes of their medical journeys while residing at The Inn.

Avery, 9, of Missouri received a bone marrow transplant at the NIH to treat her compromised immune system, a result of a highly rare genetic mutation. Autumn, 9, is participating in a medication trial at the NIH that is successfully treating her tumors due to neurofibromatosis type 1, a devastating tumor predisposition syndrome that has left the young girl blind in one eye and threatens her airway.

During the gala, Autumn’s mother, Lindsay, shared her perspective on remaining resilient in the face of a challenging diagnosis. She shared how her daughter found hope and connected with other children and families at The Children’s Inn, while she is participating in a clinical trial at the NIH – Autumn’s only chance for a treatment for her inoperable tumor. Thanks to The Inn, Autumn looks forward to her visits to the NIH.

“At The Inn, people don’t stare at her tumor. She doesn’t get questions. She’s just another kid that the other children want to play with,” Lindsay said. “That’s a priceless experience for Autumn and all the kids like her.”

Every year, The Children’s Inn at NIH provides free lodging, meals and a wide range of recreational and therapeutic supports to more than 1,700 families of seriously ill children and young adults participating in clinical research studies at the NIH. The Inn’s mission focuses on relieving the burden of illness on families, making childhood possible despite illness and accelerating groundbreaking research at the NIH to bring about new treatments and cures.

“The support for this event and The Children’s Inn overall has been overwhelmingly humbling,” said Jennie Lucca, CEO of The Children’s Inn at NIH. “I am so thankful for all of the generous supporters and sponsors for giving from the bottom of their hearts and wallets to help make childhood possible.”

Representatives from major federal health agencies were in attendance, including NIH, The U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Defense Health Agency (DHA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Next year’s gala is slated for April 25, 2020. You can learn more about the gala and see event photos at

About The Children’s Inn at NIH

The Children’s Inn at NIH is a private nonprofit with the mission to provide “a place like home” free of charge to families of children and young adults participating in clinical research at the world-renowned National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Since opening in 1990, more than 15,000 families from all 50 states and 94 countries have found a second home at The Inn, helping advance medical discoveries and improving the health of people all over the world. For more information about The Children’s Inn at NIH, please visit or call 301-496-5672.