21st Annual Clearing the Path Gala a Success!
October 2018 – Washington DC – The Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI), a Virginia-based non-profit organization held its 21st Anniversary Clearing the Path Gala on Wednesday, October 24th, at the elegant Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel. MLI is an international non-profit organization dedicated to helping war-torn countries eliminate the dangers and destabilizing effects of landmines. The 2018 Gala celebrated the progress that has been made in freeing the world of landmines, while recognizing the challenges that remain. With the longtime support of dozens of Gala sponsors, including distinguished Gold and Silver Sponsors, the Joan Wismer Foundation and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and his wife and MLI Board member, Cynthia Blumenthal, this annual event generated hundreds of thousands of dollars to support MLI’s humanitarian programs around the world.
MLI helps severely contaminated countries implement sustainable and affordable programs that increase their capacity to remove landmines and improve livelihoods. Since its founding in 1997, MLI has donated 250 mine detection dogs (MDDs) to twelve countries around the world, including Afghanistan, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia Herzegovina, Eritrea, Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, Lebanon, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Through MLI’s Children Against Mines Program (CHAMPS), MLI has reached out to tens of thousands of students and teachers in the U.S. and abroad to raise awareness about the landmine issue and to empower American students to take meaningful action to help others in mine-affected countries through service learning projects. MLI also has extensive programs to assist landmine survivors and other victims of war. MLI has provided medical assistance, prosthetics, and vocational training for thousands of survivors, offering renewed hope for their future. Additionally, for the past five years, MLI has been implementing targeted social impact programs, to include interethnic reconciliation for youth in Bosnia, and Peace Makers and Problem Solvers, a leadership development program that connects older youth in the U.S. with young people in mine-impacted countries, such as Colombia, so they can identify and work together on humanitarian projects. MLI has also implemented a mentoring and small business development program for war-widows in Iraq. All of these programs aim to restore dignity and enhance quality of life for people living in conflict-impacted countries.
MLI celebrated the evening with more than 300 distinguished guests, including dozens of Wounded Warriors, who shared in the evening’s activities. Andrea McCarren of WUSA 9 News and her service dog in-training, Nigel, gave a masterful performance as Emcee, and General Gordon R. Sullivan, MLI’s Founder & Chairman and former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, joined congressional and international leaders in presenting awards to richly deserving Honorees, including: a life-saving Mine Detection Dog Team from Azerbaijan, MDD Rocket & Vahid Mammadov, who have saved countless lives and enhanced the lives of thousands more by locating landmines and making the land safe in that country; an inspirational landmine survivor, Mirsad Mirojević, from Bosnia Herzegovina who has dedicated his life to helping others and co-founded the “Fantomi” Sitting Volleyball team for mine survivors that has won multiple European Championships; the Marschall family from Maryland, who has been selflessly dedicated to helping others around the world through MLI’s Children Against Mines Program (CHAMPS); Stephen and Jaqui Edelmann, a devoted couple that has been a great supporter of MLI’s work and has sponsored 7 life-saving dogs; and Representative Brian Mast (18th district, R-FL), a Florida Congressman who lost multiple limbs while serving with the US military in Afghanistan.
The Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Stability and Humanitarian Affairs, Mr. Mark Swayne, delivered the Keynote address for the evening, and special guest, the Mayor of Sarajevo, Mr. Abdulah Skaka, shared with Gala guests the new MLI initiative, which aims to render the capital city of Sarajevo mine-free by the fall of 2020 in time to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the end of the Bosnian War.
During the evening, the Silk Road Dance Company gave a stunning performance, featuring dances from the South Caucasus region, including Azerbaijan and Armenia, where MLI has donated more than 50 life-saving dogs to locate dangerous explosives. The evening also featured an exciting auction with hand-made items from Afghanistan and Bosnia, as well as items made by landmine survivors in Yemen who have participated in MLI’s vocational training classes.
MLI is deeply grateful to everyone who so generously contributed to the success of the Clearing the Path Gala, including the many sponsors, donors, and volunteers. To learn more about MLI’s work, please visit www.marshall-legacy.org or call 703-243-9200.