The Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will host its annual fundraising gala, “An Evening of Hope,” on May 7 at The Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner to benefit The Inn, a non-government nonprofit providing “a place like home” for children and their families while participating in clinical trials at the NIH.
All net proceeds from the Gala will support The Inn’s mission is to reduce the burden of illness and empower the work of NIH clinicians who work tirelessly to find treatments and cures for difficult and rare childhood diseases.
WashingtonExec spoke with event chairman and ICF International Senior Vice President Todd Pantezzi, who has a personal tie to The Inn and the work the National Institutes of Health does, about what attendees can expect at this year’s event and how The Inn supports families.
WashingtonExec: Can you describe The Children’s Inn at NIH “An Evening for Hope” Gala? How does this support The Inn’s broader mission?
Todd Pantezzi: ‘An Evening For Hope’ Gala is The Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) annual fundraiser. It is held to raise much-needed funds for The Inn, which is dedicated to providing “A Place Like Home” and reducing the burden of illness for seriously ill children. The Inn is a non-government, nonprofit that provides critical services to children and their families. All net proceeds raised at The Gala go to supporting The Inn in this mission.
WashingtonExec: Can you tell us about the services and environment provided at The Inn?
Todd Pantezzi: NIH takes care of the medical needs of seriously ill children while The Inn takes care to provide a home away from home. Comforts of home and support provided by The Inn include over 1,600 recreational, therapeutic and educational programs. The Inn houses more than 1,600 families annually and since its founding, 12,000 families have benefited from The Inn’s resources. The facilities feature delightful playgrounds, recreation areas, a restaurant-sized kitchen and cozy common spaces for families to converse and recharge. The Inn creates a community based on inclusiveness, healing and love.
WashingtonExec: Besides being on the NIH campus, how is the work of The Inn connected with NIH?
Todd Pantezzi: The efforts of The Inn empower the work of NIH clinicians who work tirelessly to find treatments and cures for difficult and rare childhood disease. NIH is the nation’s premier medical research agency, which is making important discoveries that improve health and save lives around the world. Children staying at The Inn participate in clinical trials at 15 out of the 27 research institutes and centers at NIH. Many children and their families’ travel from around the world to be here and The Inn provides a place for them to stay comfortably and cost-free. In many instances this is often the last, best option for a treatment. The support received at The Gala – through donors, sponsors and volunteers – enable The Inn to support children and their families while undergoing groundbreaking treatments at the NIH.
WashingtonExec: What is new at the Gala this year? What can people anticipate at the event? How can people help?
Todd Pantezzi: New this year is the addition of my buddy James Rosen, Chief Washington correspondent for Fox News, as our master of ceremonies. James and his wife were instrumental supporters of me and my family when our infant son battled leukemia. They attended The Gala in 2015 and insisted on playing a role this year. The event will take place on the evening of May 7 and will be held at The Ritz-Carlton in Tyson’s Corner. Participants can expect The Gala to once again bring together nearly 800 federal government and related industry leaders who share a common goal of helping children and advancing pediatric medical research. Guests will enjoy a delicious meal and a live performance by The Capitol Steps, which should be quite an entertaining routine given that it is a rambunctious election year. There will be live and silent auctions offering vacation, sports and spa packages in addition to original artwork created by the children at The Inn. Children and families will also be at the event to share their stories and firsthand accounts of their experience at The Inn.
WashingtonExec: You’ve been a longtime supporter of The Inn. Share why you are so actively involved with The Inn’s mission.
Todd Pantezzi: The Inn’s mission and contribution to these families touches my life in a very personal way. We lost our first son, Trevor, to leukemia in 2005. He was 2-years-old and had been fighting for his life since he was born. His mother and I spent countless nights in hospital rooms and hotels while we worked with doctors to provide him with the best quality of care possible. Though we did not stay at The Inn, we did participate in clinical trials at the NIH and have lived through what these brave children and families are experiencing.
I wanted to do something to cure leukemia, but knew that I could never do so on my own. It struck me that The Inn advances research in hundreds of diseases – including cancers such as leukemia – so by throwing my energy into The Inn, more pediatric patients are able to participate in clinical trials at NIH. This helps advance scientific research for all of us. I have been active in the NIH business community for 24 years and first visited The Inn in 1994. My day-to-day business for ICF International has me in contact with NIH officials constantly, so the opportunity to give back to the community is important to me personally and to ICF as a major NIH support contractor. I am honored be The Gala chair this year and to see children and families benefiting from the work of The Inn. It is a wonderful feeling to bring together people from all walks of life to support this cause and to truly see the positive, lasting impact of The Inn’s work.
WashingtonExec: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Todd Pantezzi: The Inn survives off of public contributions and The Gala is one of The Inn’s largest fundraisers. We are nearly sold out, but still have a few sponsorship tables available. There is also a raffle offering a motor-scooter and other ways to contribute. Please contact Sandra Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details about the event, sponsorship and donor opportunities. Thank you for all of your support and we hope to meet you at An Evening for Hope!