An Irish-inspired cocktail reception supports military families.
By John Arundel
On the last snowy day of February, a celebration of all things St. Patrick’s got off to an early start in Middleburg, Va., as Sheila Johnson’s Salamander Resort & Spa hosted its second annual Irish-inspired cocktail reception, with renowned Irish tenor and PBS superstar Anthony Kearns performing to support U.S. military families.
Featuring Irish-inspired cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and specialty desserts, the intimate black-tie gala was co-chaired by Virginia’s former First Lady Susan Allen and Martha-Ann Alito, both daughters of military fathers, with Larry Michael, the voice of the Washington Redskins serving as emcee.
After performing Irish and American delights, Kearns, a founding member of The Irish Tenors, then joined a VIP “meet the artist” reception at the new $100 million resort, sponsored with premium wines from nearby Greenhill Winery and Vineyards. The U.S. Marine Color Guard presented the American flag.
VIP guests included former Gov. George Allen, president of The Washington Redskins Bruce Allen, Rep. Barbara Comstock, Fox News Anchor Shannon Bream, and top military brass including Col. James B. Hickey and Vice Admiral Tony Less. Also attending were former U.S. Army Captain Jaspen Boothe, founder of Final Salute, Inc., who told her story of helping homeless female combat vets to PEOPLE Magazine and Oprah Winfrey; and Linda Davidson, co-founder and executive director of Our Military Kids.
“Salamander Resort & Spa was honored to co-host this powerful event featuring Anthony Kearns, one of the world’s most beloved tenors, to recognize the work of our military,” said Reggie Cooper, General Manager of Salamander Resort. “It was an evening of breathtaking music and fine food, and we’re proud to be a part of its creation.”
The fundraiser supported Our Military Kids, a McLean, Virginia-based charity that supports military families including those war wounded. “Their needs are so often overlooked,” said Davidson.
Kearns has become a favorite among the U.S. military. In 2014, he was a featured guest entertainer for PBS’ National Memorial Day Concert, and in 2013, he was a guest of General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a tribute to Medal of Honor recipients. Kearns also performed at the Friends of Ireland lunch hosted by Speaker John Boehner for President Barack Obama and other dignitaries.
In 2012, he headlined the Veterans Day Special with American Idol winner Ruben Studdard and the U.S. Air Force Band on Maryland Public Television. Recently he sang at the World War II Memorial to honor America’s “Greatest Generation.”