The 20th annual Coast Guard Foundation tribute to the 8th Coast Guard district was certainly one for the record books.
We raised $519,000 from event guests and sponsors — the highest grossing dinner we've ever hosted in New Orleans. Over the past 20 years, our 8th Coast Guard Tribute dinner has raised $6.5 million total, which has helped the men and women of the Coast Guard excel on- and off- duty during that time.
The event was hosted by three giants of the Coast Guard Foundation community — former Commandant Admiral Thad Allen, USCG (Ret.), Donald T. "Boysie" Bollinger and Otto Candies. All three are Coast Guard Foundation directors, too.
Admiral Allen, who was the principal federal officer in charge of the cleanup following Hurricane Katrina, remarked, "No one knows better than I do, how important the Coast Guard is to this city and this region, and how important the Coast Guard Foundation is to the Coast Guard.
The event paid tribute to Boysie Bollinger, who this year became a Trustee Emeritus in recognition of his 24 years of dedicated service on our board of directors. The evening's program featured a special tribute with recollections from some of Boysie's closest friends and colleagues, highlighting his service to the Foundation. And at the end of the evening, fellow director Otto Candies announced that this dinner would be his last, as he decided to step down from the board. Otto has served on the board since 1990; his wisdom and leadership will surely be missed.
Senator David Vitter served as the keynote speaker for the evening and thanked the Coast Guard members in attendance for their service to the country, and extended his appreciation to the Coast Guard Foundation for its important support of the members of the Coast Guard.
Rear Admiral Roy Nash, commander of the Coast Guard's 8th district, reflected on the loss of helicopter crew 6535 last year, and expressed his appreciation for the support of the Foundation and its donors provided during a most difficult time.
In the spirit of expanding support to as many worthy Coast Guard children as possible, Boysie, Otto and Admiral Allen issued a fundraising challenge to everyone in attendance. Could we raise $5,000 from each person to support a Coast Guard Foundation scholar? The answer was a resounding "yes."- By the end of the evening we raised another $120,000 for our scholarship program!
The evening's honorees represented Station South Padre Island in Texas. Having met the crew and learned more about its mission and service in the Coast Guard earlier in the day, individual members of the Foundation board of directors contributed the resources needed to refurbish the station's gym space with a $9,000 grant from the Shipmate Fund. Now, those who serve at this Coast Guard base will have a well-equipped, safe place to work out and keep fit thanks to our generous donors.