A Night Out: The 21st Annual Leukemia Ball

By: Rachel Cothran

Fernando and Liz Murias with Michaele and Tareq Salahi.
What: 21st Annual Leukemia Ball
Where: Washington Convention Center
When: From about 6:00 until late
Ticket price: $1,000 a person
Attire: Black tie

Who: More than 2,000 Washington business leaders and supporters came out for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s 21st annual gala event, which holds bragging rights as the city’s largest non-political fundraiser. Despite a souring economy, the fundraising tally for the night totalled $3.3 million. The event’s sponsor and planning roster reads like a who’s who of the Washington business community: executives from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Beers & Cutler, Eli Lilly, and Laborers’ Charitable Foundation. Ronald M. Bradley was honored as a “Titan of Business” for his dedication to the cause (to the tune of $75,000). Star power came in the person of funny guy Jay Leno, while Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes played for the crowd at the end of the night.

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The scene
: The entrance to the Washington Convention Center was blanketed with a red carpet, greeters, and a swing band and dancers that transported guests to the Roaring Twenties, the evening’s theme. Many attendees quickly committed to at least one $100 raffle ticket for the chance to drive home in one of two cars from Mercedes Benz before heading upstairs to check out the 400-plus-item silent auction. Up for grabs? Tons of getaways, sports memorabilia, a signed Hanna Montana montage, and the same brand of gem-encrusted pacifiers that J. Lo bought for her recently born twins.

Food: Before dinner, crudité and fruit displays—and a chocolate fountain with marshmallows, pretzels, and fruit aplenty! For dinner: jumbo-shrimp salad, filet mignon, crab cake, and a raspberry mousse coated in chocolate.

Funniest moment: When Jay Leno momentarily lost his train of thought and joked that it was because of the cleavage of a female attendee close to the stage.

Most touching moment: A video featuring Lewis Gilinsky choking up as he spoke about surviving leukemia. He and his family were honored at the event.

Boldface names: 3 out of 5
Swankiness: 3.5 out of 5
Food/Drinks: 3.5 out of 5
Overall exclusivity: 3.5 out of 5
Total: 13.5 out of 20