Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation received $100,000, the largest check ever presented in the DC’s Dancing Stars Gala’s four-year history

In Four Years DC’s Dancing Stars Gala Donates $1,042,500 for Local Charities

Washington, D.C. (February 12, 2018) – On Thursday, February 8, DC’s Dancing Stars Gala presented seven local charities with a total of $333,000 in donations raised at this year’s Gala bringing their four-year total to $1,042,500. Beneficiaries included The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Marymount University, Operation Renewed Hope Foundation, the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation, Operation Second Chance, the Amelia Morgan Foundation and the Raymond A. Wood Foundation.

The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation (JB-LF) received the largest check presented in the DC’s Dancing Stars Gala’s four-year history. The $100,000 donation will aid in the charity’s mission to assist economically vulnerable mothers and infants by working to increase access to maternal and pediatric health care and support. “We are immensely grateful to Maria Coakley David, Jim David and the rest of the DC’s Dancing Stars team for the opportunity to participate in this charity event, and we were floored when we learned that JB-LF would be the recipient of this record-breaking $100,000 donation,” said Jennifer Myers, executive director of the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. “Through this generosity, we’ll be able to help even more low-income expectant mothers and their babies get a fair start to life.”

The post gala celebration and check presentation event was attended by many past celebrity and corporate dancers including the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Mirror Ball Trophy winners: Matt Shank, President of Marymount University, Krystal Koons, spokeswoman for Jim Koons Automotive Group, and Lola Reinsch, CEO of the E.G. Reinsch Companies. Krystal set a new fundraising record for the gala, raising $115,000 when she competed in 2016.

The main event, which took place on Saturday, November 11, 2017, was hosted by founders Maria Coakley David and Jim David at the Sheraton Tyson’s Corner and featured 9 local Celebrities and 4 Corporate Challenge Dancers. The winner of the Mirror Ball Trophy and $10,000 for her charity, Marymount University, was Lola Reinsch, a commercial real estate developer, and philanthropist currently serving as CEO of the E.G. Reinsch Companies, who raised $60,000 in cash and sponsorships from more than 55 donors.

The winner of the Corporate Challenge, Caroline Coakley of Beautycounter, chose as her beneficiary the Raymond A. Wood Foundation, an organization that provides quality of life support for childhood brain tumor survivors and their families. With the winning $10,000 donation, the organization will be able to provide a handheld blood analyzer to a child suffering from diabetes insipidus. Handheld blood analyzers are hospital grade devices that are expensive, not covered by insurance and difficult to purchase for home use.

PRESS CONTACT: For additional information, interview requests or high-resolution photos, please contact Maria Coakley David. Email: Telephone: 703.593.8791.

Arlington community races for moms, babies at 5K (The Arlington Catholic Herald)

By Stacy Rausch | Catholic Herald Producation Coordinator

Good things can sometimes come from tragedy.

Jennifer Bush-Lawson lost her life in 2014 after spending the morning volunteering at Nottingham Elementary School in Arlington. She was struck and killed by a passing dump truck while putting her daughter in her car seat.

It’s great how the community comes together to support the neighborhood and Neal. It’s a way to keep in touch and support one another. ~ Courtney Portner
Neal Lawson, Jennifer’s husband, has devoted himself to honoring his wife’s memory through the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation (JB-LF), launched in 2015 on the anniversary of her death.

The foundation provides funding for medical care for pregnant women and their children through the first year of life. Being able to help women receive quality healthcare — especially for high-risk pregnancies — is important to the family since the Lawson’s three children were born prematurely, and Jennifer struggled with difficult pregnancies.

One of the ways the foundation is funded is through an annual 5K race and family fun day, now in its third year. This year’s race raised more than $100,000. The Nov. 18 5K race started and finished at the Edward Douglass White Knights of Columbus council home in Arlington. The Knights donated the use of the grounds for the event that drew more than 450 racers ranging in age from 7 to 69. Many families bundled up for the chilly fall day race while pushing babies and toddlers in strollers.

The activities included face painting, moon bounces, food trucks, silent auction and live music.

The foundation’s mission “is to serve economically vulnerable mothers and infants by improving access to high-quality maternal and pediatric healthcare and support.” The JB-LF partners with the Virginia Hospital Center outpatient clinic and the Arlington Pediatric Center to carry out this vision.

Michele Werner, director of development at the Virginia Hospital Center said, “The best thing about working with the JB-LF is how innovative and forward thinking they are to help solve problems for patients, and they care about the population of expectant mothers and children.”

High-risk pregnancies include many doctors’ visits, which can become untenable for many women, especially those with lower incomes or the uninsured. Through the JB-FL, infants receive access to well child medical care, acute care, specialty care, developmental assessments, and pack and plays for a safe place to sleep. Mothers are getting crucial pre-natal care, ultrasounds, and help monitoring their pregnancies through support such as telemedicine, a smartphone app that allows them to check in with a doctor from work or home. This free service has decreased greatly the number of missed appointments.

Courtney Portner, a parishioner of St. Agnes Church in Arlington and friend of the Lawson family, has volunteered at the event for three years. “The race was not only about raising funds,” she said. “It’s great how the community comes together to support the neighborhood and Neal. It’s a way to keep in touch and support one another.”

“The sense of community and giving back is especially important for the kids,” she added. “It was great to see all ages come out, whether they were running or not, to raise money for a great cause.”

Full story:,_babies_at_5K/

DC’s Dancing Stars Gala nets more than $300,000 for local charities (Fairfax County Times)

By Gregg MacDonald/Fairfax County Times | Nov 17, 2017

On Nov. 11, the fourth annual DC’s Dancing Stars Gala in Tysons netted more than $300,000 for local charities, and it was done with the utmost of style.

The event was hosted by co-chairs Maria Coakley David and Jim David at the Sheraton Tyson’s Corner and featured nine local celebrities including Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (the real one, not the Melissa McCarthy version) and four ‘Corporate Challenge Dancers’ who spent the past several months training for the gala performance. Local businesswoman Lola Reinsch took first prize, raising more than $50,000 in cash and sponsorships from more than 100 donors.

Spicer served on the judge’s panel, where he was by far the harshest critic of the trio, which also included Chelsie Hightower from TV’s Dancing With The Stars and Washington Ballet Artistic Director Julie Kent.

President and CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors Michael D. Bellaman was the runner-up winning $5,000 for the Morgan Amelia Foundation. Caroline Coakley, Director at Beautycounter, was the winner of the Corporate Challenge, and will direct her $10,000 prize money to the Raymond A. Wood Foundation. The Corporate Challenge winner was determined in the same way as the overall winner: 60 percent judges scores and 40 percent funds raised. Coakley raised over $60,000 and had one of the top scoring performances.

“We’re thrilled to have hosted another successful and fun evening for our local charities,” said Maria Coakley David, CEO of C.J. Coakley Co., Inc. and co-chair of DCs Dancing Stars Gala. “I’m so proud of all of our dancers, who rehearsed tirelessly and gave it their all. My husband Jim and I are avid dancers, and we’re so pleased to share our love of dancing with others as we change lives one dance step at a time.”

Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made his debut at the judges table and he kept the crowd laughing! He was joined by Chelsie Hightower, best known as a dancer, partner, trainer and choreographer for ABC’s hit show Dancing with the Stars, and Washington Ballet Director Julie Kent. Emceeing the event were Larry Miller of WUSA9 and former Washington Redskin Charles Mann.

Local charities were beneficiaries of the event, such as: The DC Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Operation Renewed Hope Foundation, Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation and Student Scholarships to attend Marymount University.

Full story:

Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation 5K & Family Fun Day Set For Saturday (ArlNow)

by Chris Teale November 16, 2017 at 1:45 pm

A 5K race and festival in memory of an Arlington mom killed by a passing truck while placing her children in a minivan will be held for the third time on Saturday.

The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Memorial 5K Race begins at 9 a.m. at the Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road). It will feature a 5K race, a kids’ fun run with Teddy, one of the Washington Nationals’ Racing Presidents, and a “Family Fun Day Festival.”

The family festival will live feature music from local band Gutterball Kingpin, as well as moon bounces, a rock climbing wall, obstacle course, in-line jumper, human hungry hippo, food trucks, a beer garden, corn hole, face painting, balloon animals and more.

The event benefits the Arlington Pediatric Center and the Virginia Hospital Center Outpatient Obstetrics Clinic, with a focus on prenatal and postnatal health services for underprivileged mothers and babies.

Police will close several roads to accommodate the event. Per the Arlington County Police Department:

The 3rd Annual Jennifer Bush-Lawson Memorial 5K Race will take place on Saturday, November 18, 2017. The Arlington County Police Department will conduct the following road closures from approximately 8:30 AM until 11:00 AM to accommodate this event:

Main Closures:
Little Falls Road: N. George Mason Drive to Yorktown Blvd.
Yorktown Blvd.: N. George Mason Drive to Williamsburg Blvd.
Williamsburg Blvd.: Yorktown Blvd. to N. Emerson Street
33rd Street: N. Emerson Street to N. George Mason Drive
George Mason Drive: N. 33rd Street to Yorktown Blvd.
Smaller closures exist within the race area

Full story on

Pace the Nation Podcast with Neal Lawson & Jennifer Myers

Episode 127 – An Episode of Tangents (Neal Lawson and Jennifer Myers)
Jump ahead to minute 12:39 to hear Neal Lawson, founder and CEO of the Jennifer Bush Lawson Foundation, talk about his running background, the Jennifer Bush Lawson Foundation, Jennifer’s story and how the foundation honors her memory. Executive Director Jennifer Myers joins him at minute 22:37 to talk about the 5K & Family Fun Day, and some of the families that have been helped by the foundation.

More at Pacers Running: 


India Hicks Truck Show coming to Pursuing Vintage to Benefit JB-LF

India Hicks Truck Show coming to Pursuing Vintage on Wednesday
by Sally Cole, Falls Church News-Press
October 20, 2017

Pursuing Vintage is hosting an India Hicks truck show and sale to benefit the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation on Wednesday, Oct. 25 from 6 – 9 p.m. Refreshments will be offered and 15 percent of proceeds will benefit the foundation. Those unable to attend the event can still shop online to benefit JB-LF until Oct. 31. To shop online at Pursuing Vintage, visit and mention JB-LF at checkout. To shop India Hicks online, visit Pursuing Vintage is located at 260 W. Broad Street in space attached to Zoya’s Atelier. For more information about the event, email For more information about the benefiting foundation, visit 



Registration Now Open for 3rd Annual JB-LF 5K & Family Fun Day

Charitable event to take place on November 18, 2017, in Arlington, VA


CONTACT: Jennifer Myers 

ARLINGTON, VA, AUGUST 7, 2017 Registration is now open for the 3rd annual Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation 5K & Family Fun Day.

This year’s 5K and Family Fun Day — scheduled for Saturday, November 18, 2017, at 9:00am at the Knights of Columbus, 5115 Little Falls Road, Arlington, VA — will include a challenging, certified 5K course open to adults and youth, as well as a Family Fun Day festival complete with a kids’ dash, music, moon bounces, rock climbing walls, obstacles course, delicious food trucks, beer garden, corn hole tournament, face painting, balloon animals and more.

New for 2017, child care is available during the 5K, provided by EverWonder Camps. (Available for potty-trained kids, ages 3 and up. For our younger friends, strollers are welcome on the 5K course in the final wave.)

Proceeds from this charitable event will help provide access to high-quality pediatric and maternal healthcare services for economically vulnerable expectant mothers and their children through our primary beneficiaries: Virginia Hospital Center and Arlington Pediatric Center. Projects funded with proceeds from last year’s event include:

  • Twelve months of wellness care for 240 newborn babies at the Arlington Pediatric Center, making JB-LF the largest donor for newborn care at APC.
  • A telemedicine program for maternal health launched in partnership with Virginia Hospital Center that will help expectant mothers with high-risk pregnancies access medical care through the convenience of their smartphone or computer. These virtual appointments will provide close prenatal monitoring to augment in-person clinical visits. JB-LF’s donations support new nursing and care coordination staff in the Outpatient Clinic to manage the maternal health telemedicine program, expand Clinic hours, and provide care to expectant mothers in need.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available; companies or individuals interested in sponsoring the 5K & Family Fun Day can reach out to

About the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation Established in honor of Jennifer Lawson, who lost her life in 2014, the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, serves economically vulnerable mothers and infants by working to increase access to high-quality maternal and pediatric health care and support. Jennifer was a loving, dedicated mother of three, driven to advocacy after receiving high-quality care during her own complicated pregnancies. JB-LF seeks to embody her generous spirit by giving all mothers and newborns the means to thrive.


A parent learns how to live after loss

neal-and-kids-runningA parent learns how to live after loss
 November 16 at 6:00 AM

On Feb. 24, 2014, 39-year-old mom of three Jennifer Bush-Lawson was hit by a truck that was passing too close to her parked minivan; at the time, she was buckling her toddler into her car seat outside her oldest child’s elementary school in Arlington, Va.This horrific event caused an entire community to catch its collective breath and catalyzed a network of friends, neighbors, family and co-workers who had all been touched by Bush-Lawson’s gentle and generous spirit. But it was her husband, Neal Lawson, suddenly a widower with three young children at the age of 41, who had to shoulder the burden of every family’s nightmare.

jen&kidsFor the past 2½ years, Lawson has been managing his own loss and grief while balancing the emotional needs and daily schedules of his growing children. When I ask Lawson how he’s been able to get through the unthinkable while still being present as a dad without just throwing his hands up and saying I quit, he laughs at my perception. “Sometimes you do just throw your hands up — but not for long.”

From a position of experience and wisdom he’d never hoped to have, Lawson shares his thoughts and advice on dealing with profound loss — whether managing your own grief or helping a friend through a particularly tough time.

Don’t be too proud to ask for help. “It sounds like common sense, but it’s harder to do than you realize,” admits Lawson. In striving to keep a sense of normalcy in his children’s lives, Lawson says he leans heavily on friends and family for everything from sports and birthday party car pools to last-minute child-care favors. And shortly after the accident, Lawson’s parents moved in with him and his children for nearly a year; his in-laws are frequent visitors.

“I can’t do everything,” says the full-time tech entrepreneur and single dad. “Even when there were two of us, we couldn’t do everything.” He prioritizes his kids’ busy schedules by continually asking himself: When do I have to be there? When would it be good to be there? And when is it okay to let someone else help me with that? “You’re actually doing better for the kids by shoring up your support system with friends, family and child care so that they can continue to live as normal a life as possible without a mom. They still need to play sports, have play dates, be reprimanded and be enriched.”

Be practical. In the wake of tragedy, everyone wants to drop off food, but there are many ways to help take daily stresses off a grieving family’s plate. “One family gave us paper goods,” remembers Lawson. “It seemed odd at the time, but we used every bit of it and were thankful when we didn’t have to worry about doing the dishes.”

Sites such as SignUpGenius or (formerly VolunteerSpot) help organize the supporting community and allow people to sign up for things that are most needed: play dates for kids, rides to doctor’s appointments, grocery store runs. A close friend or family member can set up and monitor the activity so that it doesn’t need to be managed by the grieving party. And when friends do drop off meals, consider requesting that they be delivered to a neighbor’s house to avoid awkward invasions of privacy or bad timing.

It’s okay to say no. Not every offer of help is actually helpful. “Everyone wants to help, but people can’t always appreciate other factors that may make their timing less than ideal,” Lawson says, graciously. “Don’t be afraid to turn down an offer if it’s not helpful at that time.” But, he adds, let that person know that you appreciate their offers of help, even if their timing isn’t spot-on.

You can also say “no, thank you” to an offer to help but suggest another way or time in which you might need assistance. For example, maybe you don’t need dinner delivered because your freezer is overflowing with lasagna, but it might really help you to have someone walk your dog while you’re at your kids’ soccer tournament.

Create something good. As a way to honor Jenn’s life and work through his own grieving process, Lawson and his family members founded the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation, which helps economically vulnerable mothers and infants get access to lifesaving pre- and postnatal care.

JB-LFbaby1“This is a matter that was near and dear to Jenn’s heart,” her husband explains. All three of Bush-Lawson’s pregnancies were complicated, and all three of their children were born prematurely. “We had given to organizations that supported those needs in the past, but establishing this foundation in her name was a way to formalize the legacy of her generous spirit.”

This Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016, the foundation will host its second annual 5K and family fun day. “This is also a way for the kids to get involved with carrying on their mom’s memory. In the weeks before, we hand out fliers to neighbors on the race route, we put out yard signs, the kids ask to ‘train for Mommy’s race’ with me. It gives them opportunities to ask questions and talk about Mommy, and it’s a positive way to keep her memory alive.”

For the full story, go to the Washington Post at: