News & Politics

23rd Annual Knock Out Abuse Against Women Gala Raises $500,000+

2016 Knock Out Abuse Co-Chairs Barbara Martin and Jayne Sandman.
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Party photographer Dan Swartz’s diary of bashes, benefits, and galas.

While the final tally is still being counted, Thursday’s Knock Out Abuse Against Women Gala, benefiting victims of domestic violence, easily raised more than $500,000.

Held inside the lower level ballrooms of The Ritz-Carlton Washington, D.C., the black tie affair is one of Washington’s signature social stops for the philanthropically minded each Fall.

This year was a banner one for the gala in that it was the first time in recent memory that it wasn’t held on the same night as Fight For Children’s Fight Night fundraiser, which had served as a co-sponsor of a typically joint after party.

What didn’t change, however, was the level of VIPs in the crowd. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, security detail in tow, was an early arrival as was Drybar founder (and recently minted best-selling author) Alli Webb.

Indeed, 2016 event co-chairs Barbara Martin and Jayne Sandman — the powerhouse duo behind public relations and events agency BrandLinkDC — had rallied all of their clients for the occasion.

A “D.C. Day for 10” live auction prize encouraged particularly heated bidding for the chance at 10 blowouts at Drybar, 10 classes at SoulCycle, 10 manicures at Varnish Lane, 10 salads at Sweetgreen, dinner for 10 at Pennsylvania 6, brow waxing for 10 at Shobha, a shopping party for 10 at Hu’s Shoes, and cocktails for 10 on the prized rooftop of the W Washington D.C. hotel. Fiola Mare‘s Maria Trabbochi sweetened the offer even more, with a personal on-stage appearance, by throwing in brunch for 10 at the top-rated restaurant. Final bid? $7,500 for the charity.

“Violence against women is everywhere, and it is up to all of us to not only stand in solidarity, but to help the charities at the front lines,” said Martin. “What Knock Out Abuse has done in its 23 year history is extraordinary, and we were thrilled to step up and support the cause.”

Over the years, Knock Out Abuse co-founders Jill Sorensen and Cheryl Masri have done a deft job in balancing the pageantry and fun of the event itself with the difficult and very serious subject matter being discussed. Since it was started in 1993, the nonprofit has gone from raising money for a single shelter from domestic violence to support more than 15 D.C. metro area shelters and programs.

Check out all photographs from this event here!