Make-A-Wish Ball Raises Over $1.5M

Though ballgowns, a band, and bountiful dinner plates filled the ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria, it was a bittersweet evening for Doctor Erica Kennedy, Make-A-Wish Ambassador. Over several years of facilitating wishes for children battling critical illnesses for the Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic Chapter, this year’s event honored the first she’s lost to their illness.

A bidder raises his paddle during a fundraising auction during the Make-A-Wish Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria. Image: Kate Michael

“Tonight is tough,” she told K Street Magazine, “but it’s also inspiring because [being a Wish Ambassador] is extremely fulfilling work.”

The annual Ball attracts hundreds of guests, including volunteers like Kennedy, to raise awareness and funds for Make-A-Wish, which grants life-changing wishes for children in the region. Every year, 450 local children are expected to receive a diagnosis that makes them eligible for a wish.

Gala attendees supporting the organization with additional donations received leis at the Make-A-Wish Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria. Image: Kate Michael

Kennedy’s youth — battling a critical cancer diagnosis for the second time — wished for family travel to Hawaii, and the Hawaiian theme extended into the Make-A-Wish Ball, with gala attendees that supported the organization with additional monetary donations receiving leis in gratitude.

And the leis abounded! Ticket sales, live and silent auctions, and additional donations helped the event to raise a record-breaking $1,527,407 toward granting wishes.

Shiv Krishnan, Meena Krishnan, and Robert Burton attend the Make-A-Wish Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria. Image: Kate Michael

While there were heartrending moments, overall it was a fun and inspirational night with great food and wine, music, and moving wish stories. And the Make-A-Wish Ball is a rare DC gala event, with many children attending and enjoying dinner and dancing!

The 2024 Make-A-Wish Ball was co-chaired by Katherine & Benjamin Berman and Sophie & Stephen LaMontagne (Georgetown Cupcake) and Laura Szlavin Niamien & Joel Niamien (Wish Parents). The 2024 event raised $1,527,407 and had Make-A-Wish founder Tommy Austin in attendance.