Suzanne Dana traces her commitment to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society back to her teen years, growing up as the daughter of an active-duty Marine and a registered-nurse mom who volunteered for the Society at Camp Pendleton. Flash forward several decades and Dana, now the wife of LtGen Michael Dana, USMC, carries on the family tradition as the chair—for the second time!—of the Navy-Marine Corps Ball Committee, a non-profit committed to raising tens of thousands of dollars for the Society every year.
“My mother’s dedication and commitment to the Society left an imprint on me,” says Dana. “Later on, as a Marine wife myself, I saw firsthand the assistance provided to Sailors and Marines by the Society. The Visiting Nurse Program and the Combat Casualty Assistance Visiting Nurse Program are dear to my heart.”
So in 2014, when the opportunity arose to chair the Ball Committee, Dana was enthusiastic in her decision to step forward. The experience was so positive, she’s back to head the 2018 event. The Navy-Marine Corps Ball Committee is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization established in 1914 by military spouses to raise funds for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. The annual event celebrates and publicly expresses gratitude for the many corporate, organization, and individual donors and supporters. In 2017, the Committee raised $471,159 for the Society.
Though known as the Ball Committee, this year’s leadership decided to break with tradition and host a Gala instead. Once a staple of the spring Ball season, attendance has been declining for six years. “We have moved from thousands of attendees to just under 700 last year,” says Dana. “With the consent of our Honorary Chairs, Mrs. D’Arcy Neller and Mrs. Dana Richardson, the Committee decided to try a venue change.”
What can an attendee expect at the 2018 Step Up to the Plate Gala? “Well…for one thing a really good time!” enthuses Dana. “Our volunteers on the Navy-Marine Corps Ball Committee have been working for a year planning this event with many working full-time and caring for young children or elderly family members. They put their heart and soul into this event for the LOVE of Sailors and Marines!”
This year’s Gala will be a mix and mingle evening rather than a formal seated event and it will be held at Nationals Park—home of The Nationals Major League Baseball franchise. Attendees will get a true Major League Baseball experience complete with private Ball Park Tours and swings in the Batting Cages. The evening will begin with a cocktail reception for all attendees in the PNC Diamond Club or a By Invitation Only reception in the exclusive Delta Sky360 Club. The Opening Ceremony will follow with the National Anthem sung by D.C. Washington, a fan favorite anthem singer for local pro teams, and remarks from the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Robert Neller. Next, guests will move to the Norfolk Southern Club, an open indoor space spanning the ballpark from first to third base and featuring spectacular views of both the field and the Anacostia river. There they will enjoy fabulous specialty food stations, peruse items in the silent auction or listen to the smooth Jazz sounds of the U.S Navy Commodores Combo. Attendees can even take selfies with Screech, the National’s popular mascot.
If you’re in the Washington D.C. area this March, this is a can’t miss event! With a lower price point and cocktail dress code, this year’s event is sure to be a hit, says Dana. Tickets and more information are available online at www.navymcball.org.
As for Dana, she’s looking forward to a fun evening surrounded by friends and heroes and supporting a great cause. And she’ll continue to support the Society, wherever the Marine Corps takes her. It’s a family tradition.
By Carole Turner