What: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Man and Woman of the Year Gala.
Where: Ritz-Carlton, 1150 22nd St., NW.
When: Saturday, June 12. Guests were given a chance to pore through silent auction items starting at 6. At 7, the dining room opened for dinner and presentations. The dance floor opened at 10.
Ticket price: $300.
Dress code: Black tie and the most sequined-dress in your closet.
Who: Supporters of this year’s 20 candidates for Man and Woman of the Year. The competition, which launched back in April, rewards the candidate who raises the most money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. A cumulative goal of $920,000 was set. WJLA-TV’s Alison Starling and 2006 Man of the Year candidate Brian Egan served as masters of ceremonies. Kenneth Dineen of Accenture and Allison Gurnitz of Coray Gurnitz Consulting were the event’s cochairs.
The scene: Executive director Donna McKelvey started the evening with welcoming remarks as attendees took seat in the sleek Ritz dining room. Hearts warmed during the presentation of the 2010 Boy & Girl of the Year awards, which went to seven-year-old Skyler Hundley and ten-year-old Andrew Luckabaugh. Skyler was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age four, while Andrew was diagnosed with lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin’s disease, stage 1B, at age seven. The brave twosome received standing ovations after making appearances on stage with their families. Once tables were cleared after dinner, Dineen and Gurintz presented the Man and Woman of the Year candidate introductions, which consisted of two-minute videos of the candidates describing their personal involvement and mission with the organization. Lockheed Martin Corporation’s Brian Leigh had one of the most poignant stories, recounting his battle with acute myelogenous leukemia in 2008.
Food and drink: Guests were served a three-course meal: lump-crab salad with crushed avocado and potato gaufrette; onion-crusted beef filet with Cabernet sauce, mushroom and cippolini ragoût, haricots verts, roasted tomato, baby carrots, and a dauphinois potato; and a milk-chocolate mousse cake with vanilla crème brûlée, with passionfruit caviar and raspberry garnish. Drink choices included Sauvignon Blanc and Welmoed Shiraz, along with coffee and a selection of herbal teas.
Me, You, and the Dance Floor: Representatives from Adeler Jeweler’s perked up the crowd, presenting a box of gems to a lucky audience winner, and then shimmying back to the main stage, as Chris Brown’s “Forever” blasted. This served as a nice precursor to the dancing that followed the ceremony.
“And the winner is . . .”: Sean Geiger of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney was named 2010 Man of the Year, having raised $62,000. Woman of the Year Lisa Pagano, however, surpassed Geiger by nearly $20,000. A publicist for the Washington Nationals, Pagano raised more than $81,000.
The first-runner up for Man of the Year was Morgan Stanley Smith Barney’s Jared Salvetti, while Woman of the Year first runner-up was Mary McLaughlin, a junior at Christopher Newport University and the youngest of the 20 candidates. She dedicated her mission to her brother Ryan, who lost his battle to leukemia in 1999. Collectively, the candidates raised more than $852,000.
Boldface names: 3 out of 5.
Swankiness: 4 out of 5.
Food and drink: 4 out of 5.
Overall exclusivity: 4 out of 5.
Total score: 15 out of 20.