The PenFed Foundation raised $1.6 million at its 15th Annual Night of Heroes Gala last night. All proceeds will support veterans, active military members and their families by helping them secure their financial futures.
The PenFed Foundation gala is Washington’s premier fundraising event for our nation’s defenders. This is the 4th consecutive year the event raised over $1 million.
“Thanks to the incredible efforts and generosity of our sponsors, donors, and volunteers, the PenFed Foundation offers life-changing programs to members of the military community,” said James Schenck, president and CEO of PenFed Credit Union and CEO of the PenFed Foundation. “Since its founding in 2001, the PenFed Foundation has provided more than $30 million in financial support and assisted more than 130,000 veterans, active duty military members and their families. The PenFed Foundation could not accomplish this without the efforts and contributions of those who support our mission.”
Emceed by award-winning journalist Leon Harris, the gala attracted over 600 attendees and included a unique gathering of remarkable guests and honorees who have made significant contributions to supporting the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces.
This Year’s Honorees
This year’s gala focused on the resilience and determination of military children. The recipients of this year’s Military Heroes Award were:
· Semira Fields, nominated by Our Military Kids and a Texas student currently studying and playing volleyball at Grambling State University;
· Jared Russell, also nominated by Our Military Kids and an accomplished saxophone player, who will attend SUNY Fredonia this fall;
· and Jaysha Young, a National Honor Society student from North Carolina who was nominated by The Armed Services YMCA.
The PenFed Foundation also surprised Jaysha Young with her deployed father Sergeant Major Jamall Young joining the stage as she received her Military Hero Award. A video of the reunion can be found here.
“Tonight, we shine a spotlight on the children of our military families and some amazing organizations who support them. The children of our service members are a strong, brave and resilient group of young Americans,” said General (Ret.) John W. Nicholson Jr., president of the PenFed Foundation. “Their own service is sometimes overlooked, but every day, military children have to grapple with the challenges of having a parent deployed and in harm’s way. This is no easy task, and they are doing it with tremendous grace and courage. These are children who not only rise to the occasion; they rise above it and soar.”
The Military Caregiver Award was given to Stacy Fidler, who serves as the caretaker for her wounded warrior son, U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal (Ret.) Mark Fidler. Mark suffered severe injuries in Afghanistan in October 2011 when he lost both of his legs. Mark describes his mother as not only a great caretaker for him, but as a caretaker for others during their time at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where she would speak up for others’ needs.
U.S. Army General (Ret.) George W. Casey Jr. received the American Hero Award. General Casey ranks among the most distinguished veterans in the nation, having commanded the multi-national forces in Iraq from 2004 to 2007 and served as Army Chief of Staff under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama from 2007 to 2011. General Casey serves on the board of Georgetown University and various nonprofits that support members of the military community.
The Corporate Hero Award was given to Innospec Inc., a global specialty chemicals company represented at the gala by Oilfield Services Business President Thomas Entwistle. Innospec Inc. has become one of the major corporate supporters of the PenFed Foundation’s Military Heroes Fund, donating nearly $1 million since 2007.
“We are thrilled to honor these award recipients as their contributions to military service members, veterans and their families are unparalleled,” said The Honorable Frederick F.Y. Pang, chairman of the PenFed Foundation Board of Directors.
Other special attendees at the Night of Heroes Gala include seven Medal of Honor recipients including U.S. Marine Corps Colonel (Ret.) Harvey “Barney” Barnum Jr., U.S. Army Major General (Ret.) Patrick Brady, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Alfred Rascon, U.S. Army Sergeant Major (Ret.) Kenneth Stumpf, U.S. Army First Lieutenant (Ret.) Brian Thacker, U.S. Navy SEAL Command Master Chief Petty Officer (Ret.) Britt Slabinski, and U.S. Army Major William D. Swenson.
Funds raised at the gala include contributions from PSCU, the Commander Sponsor, which donated $100,000. Allied Solutions and CUNA Mutual Group are Military Hero sponsors that each donated $75,000.
Shashi Vohra, Senior Executive Vice President and President of Affiliated Businesses at PenFed Credit Union, served as the Sponsorship Chair. Roderick (Rocky) Mitchell, who recently retired from PenFed Credit Union as Executive Vice President of Global Fixed Assets, served as the Program Chair. It was Rocky’s vision to create the PenFed Foundation to solely focus on helping our nation’s military men and women and their families.
About PenFed Foundation
Founded in 2001, the PenFed Foundation is a national nonprofit organization committed to helping members of our military community secure their financial future. It provides service members, Veterans, their families and support networks with the skills and resources they need to improve their lives through programs on financial education, home ownership, short-term assistance, and veteran entrepreneurial assistance. Affiliated with PenFed Credit Union, the Foundation has the resources to effectively reach military communities across the nation, build strong partnerships, and engage a dedicated corps of volunteers in its mission. The credit union funds the Foundation’s personnel and most operational costs, demonstrating its strong commitment to the programs the Foundation provides. Equal Housing Opportunity. To learn more, visit www.penfedfoundation.org.