2014 Clearing the Path Gala
Fairmont Hotel, Washington, DC
October 22, 2014
The Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI), a Virginia-based international humanitarian organization, hosted its 17th annual Clearing the Path Gala on October 22nd in Washington, DC at the elegant Fairmont Hotel. More than 300 guests helped MLI honor leaders whose extraordinary efforts have improved lives in war-torn countries. With dozens of generous Gala sponsors, including Title Sponsor General Dynamics, the event raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support MLI’s humanitarian programs. This year’s Gala highlighted Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), and the work that MLI has done for the past 10 years to help the people of Bosnia recover from the devastating effects of war.
MLI works to restore hope and promote stability in war-torn countries by implementing sustainable and affordable programs that help countries remove the scourge of landmines. Since its founding in 1997, MLI has donated 199 mine detection dogs (MDDs) to eleven different countries around the world, to include Afghanistan, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eritrea, Iraq, Lebanon, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. MLI’s CHildren Against Mines Program (CHAMPS) is an educational outreach program that fosters global citizenship by encouraging American students to help others in mine-affected countries through service-learning projects. Finally, MLI’s Survivors’ Assistance program helps landmine survivors who are struggling to overcome the devastating physical and psychological scars of their injuries by providing prosthetic devices, rehabilitative treatment and vocational training.
MLI was delighted to have NPR News Correspondent Tom Gjelten serve as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening. Following a beautiful performance of the National Anthem by MSG Caleb Green, Gjelten kicked off the night by introducing the evening’s sponsors, highlighting Gold Sponsors General Dynamics and the Joan Wismer Foundation. Guests then enjoyed a marvelous dinner, followed by a delightful performance by the World Children’s Choir that featured songs of peace and hope.
Dr. Ken Rutherford, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR), and a landmine survivor himself, presented the Survivors’ Award to Rahmattulah Merzayee, a landmine survivor from Afghanistan who was honored for his courage and leadership as a tireless advocate for mine victims. Unfortunately, Rahmattulah was unable to fly in from Afghanistan to receive the award, so Dr. Rutherford presented the award to Mr. Ramin Manawi, Counselor from the Embassy of Afghanistan, who accepted the award on behalf of Rahmattulah.
Mrs. Diana Enzi, wife of Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), then presented the Joan Wismer CHAMPS Award to two outstanding women, Anne Wooleyhand and Jennifer Cope, who have worked tirelessly to engage children in CHAMPS at Glenelg Country School in Ellicott City, MD and have empowered their students to take action to help others around the world. After Mrs. Wooleyhand and Mrs. Cope accepted their awards, Mrs. Enzi introduced Her Excellency Jadranka Negodic of the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ambassador Negodic spoke of her country’s struggle with landmines, and the great work that is being done by the Marshall Legacy Institute to help them recover from the devastating war that ended nearly 20 years ago. She also highlighted the challenges they have faced in the wake of the horrific flooding in May 2014 that washed many landmines from marked minefields and into new and undisclosed locations, endangering thousands of lives. Following her remarks, Ambassador Negodic introduced Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), who spoke to the Gala guests about the strong partnership between the United States and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the continued commitment of the U.S. government to help countries like BiH as they recover from war.
MLI founder and Board Chairman, General Gordon Sullivan, then took the stage and introduced the key note speaker, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Rear Admiral Samuel Perez, Jr. Admiral Perez delivered a powerful speech, emphasizing the partnerships formed between MLI, the U.S. Department of State’s PM/WRA, corporate and individual sponsors, and American school children, which have synergized to make the world a better and safer place.
The evening concluded with the presentation by MLI’s President, Perry F. Baltimore, of the 2014 Mine Detection Dog Team of the Year award to an outstanding team from the Federal Administration of Civil Protection in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Alden Ćesko and MDD Betsy. This incredible team has been working together since 2008, and has searched more than quarter of a million square meters of mine-affected land in Bosnia and Herzegovina, saving countless lives.
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. For more information or to take part in the 2015 Clearing the Path Gala, which will be held at the Fairmont Hotel on October 20, 2015, please contact Tycie Horsley at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-243-9200.
Perry and Lin Baltimore Family
Embassy of Qatar
Irene C. Evans Charity
Sterling International LLC
Ambassador Frances Cook
John and Dee Horsley
Sami and Annie Totah Foundation
Donald and Linda Patierno