Nov. 17, 2017
Nov. 17, 2017
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.”
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.