Celebrating 10 Years of An Evening for Hope

Karly gives her stirring speech to highlight the evening

On Saturday, April 27, The Children’s Inn at NIH hosted its 10th annual An Evening for Hope gala at The Ritz-Carlton in Tysons, Virginia. The gala raised over $1.8 million for The Inn and its families. Tony Perkins, current anchor of NBC’s News4 Today and longtime Washington D.C. media figure, returned to emcee the event for a fourth time. Todd Pantezzi, Inn Trustee and Chief Strategy Officer, CVP, once again led the organizing committee.

Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, the 17th Director of the NIH, appeared via video to speak about how The Inn and NIH researchers work as partners to make advances in science and medicine that yield life-saving treatments for childhood diseases. “Through The Inn we open our hearts to the children and families who come to us for answers,” said Dr. Bertagnolli. “The compassion they receive at The Inn is an essential part of the healing process.”

Jennie Lucca, the CEO of The Children’s Inn, took the stage to thank those in attendance and reiterate The Inn’s lasting collaboration with the NIH. She looked back on ten years of An Evening for Hope and the immense difference it has made for families staying at The Inn. She also looked forward providing updates on The Inn of Tomorrow and the renovation and expansion of the existing Inn that will take place over the next few years.

But the star of the show on Saturday was Karly, who has been coming to The Inn since the age of six in 2001. Karly and her sister Kelsey were part of the study that led to the discovery of Dock8 Immunodeficiency Syndrome. This rare disorder leads to recurrent viral infections of the skin and respiratory system, allergies, asthma, and an increased risk of some types of cancer. It also carries a short life expectancy. In 2014, three years after her sister passed away following an unsuccessful double cord blood stem cell transplant, Karly was the first American recipient of a Haplo bone marrow transplant. Now ten years later, she is cured and as she put it to the cheers of the crowd at the gala, “living her best life.”

Following Karly’s stirring speech, auctioneer Billy Harris hosted a live auction and fund-the-mission appeal, which engaged the crowd and rewarded the highest bidders with items such as one-of-a-kind artwork created by Inn families, a VIP experience at Billy Joel’s final Madison Square Garden residency show, and an in-home dinner with celebrity chefs.

Attendees also heard from Elyas, who underwent a successful bone marrow transplant last year to help cure his sickle cell anemia. Brian Kelly, the Editor at Large and Executive Vice President of U.S. News and World Report and the Chair of the Board of Directors for The Children’s Inn, introduced Dr. Bertagnolli in his first gala as Chair. Inn Board members Ken Wojdon, NIH Account Leader with Deloitte, and Milad Bahrami, Senior Vice President for Health Solutions at Leidos represented their company’s role as Platinum Event Sponsors.

Elyas introduced dinner and thanked attendees for their support of The Inn

Also recognized was Susan Penfield, Chief Technology Officer at Booz Allen Hamilton, a Gold Event Sponsor as well as Silver Event Sponsors Jill Olmstead, Managing Director at Accenture Federal Services; Kamal Narang, Vice President & General Manager Federal Health Sector at GDIT; Michelle Sanguilliano Senior Vice President of Federal Health and Civilian at NTT Data; Diana Ceban, Vice President Health Account for Civilian Markets SAIC; and Prachee Devadas, President & CEO of Synergy Enterprises.

Details for next year’s An Evening for Hope gala will be finalized in the coming weeks and shared on www.childrensinn.org when available.

Inn CEO Jennie Lucca addressing the crowd

Thank You to All Our
2024 An Evening for Hope Sponsors!