News & Politics

A Night Out: Children’s Inn at NIH Dinner

Nancy Pelosi and prominent Washingtonians gather at US Chamber of Commerce for a good-will Gala.

Guests dine at the Children's Inn dinner.

What: A reception and gala benefiting the Children’s Inn at NIH. The private, nonprofit inn provides children dealing with serious illness a respite from periodic hospital treatments.

Where: The Hall of Flags at the US Chamber of Commerce.

When: October 10, 6:30 to 9:30 PM.

Sonia & Allen Cobar.

Who: An assortment of Children’s Inn and NIH staff and supporters, including former congresswoman Connie Morella and AIDS researcher Anthony Fauci, attended. Also on hand were Congress members Roy Blunt of Missouri, Doris Matsui of California, John Dingell of Michigan, and speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Nine-year-old Allen Cobar was one of the best-dressed guests in his pinstripe suit and red tie. Both he and his mother are afflicted by neurofibromatosis, a disease in which tumors grow on the nervous system and spinal cord.

Food: A three-table buffet spread included fried chicken, clam chowder, crab cakes, and a Mexican casserole. Star of the night Allen Cobar loved the chocolate cake and forked in big mouthfuls.

Drink: Several bars in the reception area offered a wine and spirits. After dinner, an espresso bar was set up.

Scene: An auction of “celebrity” handbags—meaning previously owned by Congress members and Children’s Inn notables—began the evening in the reception area.

The event’s emcee, Cokie Roberts of NPR, called attendees in to dinner and opened the gala promptly at 7:30. A short program followed with remarks by Viacom’s DeDe Lea, who sponsored the event; deputy secretary of Health and Human Services Tevi D. Troy; gala chair Debbie Dingell; and a Children’s Inn family, Sonia Cobar and her son, Allen.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

Allen’s mother said that because of the 58 tumors that line his spinal cord, he can’t do what he loves best—play baseball. However, while he’s in Washington receiving treatment, the Children’s Inn plans baseball outings for him. So, his mom explained, instead of associating the capital with the painful treatments, the Chicago native associates it with fun.

The Hall of Flags’ gold chandeliers cast an intimate glow over the room’s approximately 20 tables. Navy-blue tablecloths with a gold-star overlay complemented the Children’s Inn’s signature colors and design. A five-piece band harmonized with the lively chatter and helped create the collective spirit already warmed by the touching stories of children and the night of good will.


Boldface names: 2.5 (out of 5)
Swankiness: 3 (out of 5)
Food and drink: 3 (out of 5)
Exclusivity: 3 (out of 5)

Total score: 11.5 (out of 20)