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“Friday Night Dinners”
Ten Year Reunion

Saturday, October 5, 2013
Hyatt Regency Hotel, Bethesda MD

October 2013 marked a historic milestone in the Aleethia Foundation’s legacy … It has been ten years since the first “Friday Night Dinner” was held. What started out as a steak dinner for two soldiers in October 2003, has grown into a commitment to honor and support wounded/injured/ill service members and their families during their recovery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at a weekly “Friday Night Dinner.” Since 2003, over 45,000 meals have been served to injured service members and their families. The “Friday Night Dinners” are about recovery, fellowship and community as much as they are about food.

Through the generosity of our donors, the Aleethia Foundation hosted a special reunion dinner which included previously injured veterans, who over the past years have benefited immensely from the dinners and have since reintegrated into civilian life and the current injured service members who are going through the healing process at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The primary focus of the dinner was to help past attendees continue the friendships they formed with fellow service members in the hospital, the volunteers of Aleethia and the Dinner Sponsors who helped them along their path of recovery. The past attendees also served as visible role models of recovery after serious injuries for the current injured service members.

Over 375 service members and their families, military medical staff, special guests and the Aleethia Foundation volunteers were part of an amazing evening.

A special thank you to all who made this Reunion a reality … the Members of the Steering Committee for their dedication and hard work in the organization and planning of this event … the Reunion Dinner Volunteers who made the evening a memorable night for all and, more importantly, our generous dinner sponsors.

Hal Koster
Founder & Executive Director
The Aleethia Foundation


“Aleethia”

By Paulette Mason
(Mother of injured service member)

Dedicated to the many volunteers that I have met over my three years

Tonight, I stand before you, so humbled to speak.
Tonight, I share my thoughts of what many others at this gathering have perceived.

Aleethia had become a lifeline in our struggle to survive, by providing us
with a dinner outing every Friday night.

Endless hours of appointments and therapies would take its toll,
However for us to survive, Friday night dinners became our weekly goal!

As Wounded Warriors, Family Members and Caregivers alike
  . . .we had our weekly fill of military life.

So Friday night dinners became our way to escape,
 from the constant barrage
 of paperwork, appointments and bureaucratic red tape.

Aleethia took us out to some very exciting places, and wherever we
showed up—it produced many smiling faces!

We grew to look forward to those Friday nights out, and the camaraderie
that formed from milling about.

Friday night dinners became a place of comfort, great food and fun,
Once again a place where we could feel safe, loved, and not judged.

Now, to Aleethia and the many sponsors of the Friday night dinners,
I want to thank you for making US feel like winners.

For without the kind generosity and the caring that you have showed,
I’m not quite sure (for many of us) what would have been
 at the end of the road.

Our lives were filled with uncertainty, struggle and pain,
and YOU have helped PLACE us on a steady plane,

There will always be a place in our hearts for you,
and we will always remember what it is that you do!

So thank you for taking care of us during this challenging time.

And NOW I propose a SALUTE to Aleethia by toasting with a glass of wine!!!

Comments from a few wounded/injured service members who attended “Friday Night Dinners” and the 10 year Reunion Dinner

CAPT KENT:  “I mean this when I say that the steak dinners on Friday Nights were one of the best things going for the patients at the hospital.  I don’t know if you are fully aware of how much those nights helped a lot of guys but you and all involved are truly angels….Also, know that I am back to work and living life in part because of people like you who saw people like me through the hard times…”

HONORABLE Duckworth:  (10 year Reunion of “Friday Night Dinners”)   “This is one of those safe places…”full of amazing, caring people who took care of me right at the very beginning (and) took care of my family when they were trying to take care of me.  These are just old friends and fellow ‘classmates;’ people that I was with at Walter Reed.  It’s just really good to see everyone.”

SGT BRYANT:   “Friday Night Dinners….another amazing impact on my recovery began…you made my recovery better…  I can honestly say that it’s because of people like you that I try my hardest to better my life and help others to better theirs each and every day…I try to find ways to give back to my fellow wounded brothers and sisters….”

CPT Moore:  “…It brings backs lots of emotions when I think of all the good times we had at the Friday Night dinners.  Some of those nights started off with life altering events that day or that week, but being amongst friends and family and good food those Friday evenings seemed to turn those lemons into lemonade… The 10th Anniversary dinner allowed me to see brothers and sisters that I haven’t seen in years.  I was able to see and talk to so many people in that room that left an indelible positive mark in my life….It is also astonishing when I reflect on how far each of us has moved on since then.  To see the tremendous resolve in all those represented in that room was amazing.  If you could bottle the talents, drive and determination of the individuals in that room and all the spiritual, social, political and economic good they have done and share it with the rest of the world, the world would be forever changed for the better….”



ALEETHIA FOUNDATION
“Friday Night Dinners”
2003–2013





Artwork by Celeste Haas (daughter of an US Marine)


PLATINUM SPONSORS

Smithers Patriot Foundation
Rolling Thunder Washington DC Inc.
Jim Mayer 44th Alive Day Donations
Veterans of Foreign Wars
The American Legion
Wounded Warrior Project
Dr. Paul D. Wolfowitz

GOLD SPONSORS

JetBlue Airways
Clark Construction Group LLC
Duty First Consulting
Gary Sinise Foundation
Stephen & Shoshana Bryen
Travis & Robert Pastrana and Ken & Laura Gill

SILVER SPONSORS

Ottobock.
Dan and Michele Creedon
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
The Phelps Family
Charles and Lucy Cook

“Traveling Expenses for Veterans” Sponsors

Wm S Grant USA
Amy Foster
Allen DeFend
Jeannie Lehowicz
David & Dollie Dodrill
Karen Ott
Dodrill Family
Claude & Nancy Keener
Marcus Flagg
Cardinal Bank Community Fund
Lindsay Automotive Group
Tom & El Porter
National Amputation Foundation
Laureate Alpha Delta
Thomas Stallone
In Memory of Coralie Molnar
Gerald & Corrie Young
Jacquelyne Tancyus in Memory of Robert Tancyus
Jacqueline Garrick
The Monument Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC.
John & Nancy Sommer
Dr. Patrick and Shari Sheehan
Disabled American Veterans
Scott & Jackie Gray

Thank You to "Freedom Petals" for the beautiful
Floral Centerpieces.


Special Thank You to ConnellyWorks, Inc.
for their superb event management.

Special Thanks to our wonderful photographers - Ryan Hughes and Patrick Hughes