Finally the cab pulled up outside of the Virginia Beach Convention Center (“Virginia is For Lover’s,” I later learned, through many a bumper sticker.)
I pushed through the revolving doors and there was this wonderful moment when I set my sights on the Chief Executive Officer of Physicians for Peace – Retired Brigadier General Ron Sconyers. It almost felt as if we hadn’t been apart for a couple of months because the KBTV Productions team had just cut a five-part series profiling Mr. Sconyers’ work at PFP. You have to understand that this is a gentleman with whom I had accompanied on two separate missions – one in Nigeria and one in Guatemala. We have also spent countless hours on the phone discussing everything from fact checking KBTV episodes and Blogs to the birthday party for his twins. Something happens on these missions – you become very close, very quickly. This is why the Gala was so special for me – because I got to see my old pals, Dr. Margie, Nurse Evan and Nurse Francis, Jaya, Mary – and that’s just to name a few. It almost felt like a family reunion.
It was the Physicians for Peace annual “Celebrate the Nations” Gala. The evening started out with a VIP reception where guests from many countries who are involved in the work of PFP were able to meet and mingle. Among the distinguished attendees was Senator Bill Frist, M.D., this year’s recipient of the Charles E. Horton Humanitarian Award for Global Health; as well as The Honorable Abdoulaye Diop, Ambassador from Mali; Domingo Nolasco, Minister and Consul General of the Philippines; and Myra Obendorf, Mayor of Virginia Beach. Also during the reception, PFP gave special recognition to Hampton Roads area hospitals for their support of PFP’s mission work.
Then the evening got under way, and we all enjoyed an exquisite, Latin-inspired meal and mariachi serenade. The program, hosted by Kathryn Barrett of WVEC-TV, included the first annual Volunteer of the Year Awards, as well as a performance by Latin Ballet of Virginia. PFP Board Member Morgan Davis captivated the crowd with his charm as our very own auctioneer while raising money for our cause. An inspiring speech was given by Former Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist, M.D., a leader in the quest for sustainable healthcare solutions for the developing world.
I’ll also mention that I was awarded the “President’s Award” for raising awareness for PFP’s causes through writing and video. It was an amazing feeling!
I want to thank Liz, Court and Dave for accompanying and supporting me at the Gala. And I want to thank Ron and everyone else at Physicians for Peace for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of their family.