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Ball on the Mall Benefits The National Mall

The L’Enfant Society’s “Ball on the Mall” Saturday night was the spectacular site of D.C.’s young philanthropists dining and dancing under the up-lit Washington Monument with the U.S. Capitol shining in the distance.

The same paths we runners use by day had been transformed at night into a beautiful, sparkly party. Men in tuxedos and women in bright colored springtime dresses dined at sunset under a clear tent in the most exclusive location in Washington, directly on the grassy expanse of The National Mall at Fourteenth and Madison streets.


The event’s VIPs were jazz musician Ski Johnson, actor Ricky Schroder -- who spoke of his memories of presidential inaugurations on the Mall -- U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Andy Baldwin, M.D. and MIX107.3 top-rated radio host Tommy McFly.

(Singer Whitney Houston was cited as a VIP attendee in the press release, but was a no-show, despite the fact that she was in D.C. The erratic singer apparently “re-routed” her limousine en route to the Mall and caught a flight to Zurich, where she performed that evening.)


The benefit raised money for the Trust for the National Mall, a nonprofit partner of the National Park Service dedicated to restoring the Mall, which has become rundown due to lack of funding and years of neglect.

The hosts of the evening were Kristen and Dave Pollin, Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan and Mrs. Veronica Valencia-Sarukhan.

The L'Enfant Society Co-Chairs Cameron Gilreath of Time Warner and George Chopivsky of Simpson Housing and the Trust’s Chairman John Akridge and his wife Sally also planned the benefit.


Since being established in 2007, the Trust for the National Mall has raised over $5 million for the National Park Service.

The L'Enfant Society was established by the Trust’s board in order to engage young professionals in fundraising and awareness of the National Mall and has raised $500,000 so far.

The dynamic young Board members at the event include David Vennett of Toyota, Lindley Thornburg of Heather Freeman PR and Pamela Sorensen of Pamela’s Punch.

Other Board members at the benefit were Lindsay Stroud and Wright Sigmund who was joined by his wonderful parents Donald and Deborah Sigmund. Time Warner’s Tim Berry, a member of The L’Enfant Society’s Steering committee mingled with his lovely wife Lisa Barclay.

The festive young D.C. crowd included: Georgetown resident J.T. Taylor of DeMatteo Monness LLC, Tara Palmeri of The Washington Examiner, Brett Shogren, Coutney Cohen of Dewey Square Group, Luke Russert of NBC, Michael Clements (my hero) and Tony Powell of Washington Life, Dane Nielsen, Susan Roberts, Jamie Linen and Charles Rockefeller.


The National Mall was part of Pierre L'Enfant's 1791 design for Washington. He envisioned an open public space where people could celebrate America's heroes.

Over the years, the 700-acre expanse in the center of the city has added monuments to Presidents Lincoln, Jefferson and Washington, as well as memorials to veterans of the Korean, Vietnam and Second World Wars.

Today, The National Mall draws 25 million visitors each year, however many comment on the the sinking Jefferson Memorial seawall, the brown and barren footpaths, and the reflecting pools with stagnant water or at times empty.

One of America’s most beloved treasures, the Mall should be restored to its original splendor to be appreciated for generations to come. I’ve gone running in most major cities in the world, but nothing compares to the patriotic thrill of running along The National Mall.