On the Scene
Reeve Waud is chairman of this year's event. 0

Navy SEAL benefit heading for record $3 million-plus

September 13th, 2016

More than 100 military members and Gold Star families will attend this week’s benefit dinner for the Navy SEAL Foundation. Chicago organizers expect to surpass $3 million–a record for the event.

The foundation supports families of wounded and fallen SEALs. Gold Star families are those who have lost loved ones in war. Their status has gained attention recently as the Muslim American parents of a slain Army soldier spoke at the Democratic National Convention.

“The SEALs are the quiet warriors,” says Reeve Waud, chairman of this year’s event. “You hear their families tell their stories, and there’s not a dry eye around. For them, it was all about doing the right thing.”

Waud also is founder and managing partner of Waud Capital Partners and has long supported military programs. It was a natural, he says, that he and his wife, Melissa, step up for the SEALs.

The foundation is based in Virginia but has a strong following among Chicago executives. They like the cause, of course–and the foundation’s bottom line. Waud says 94 cents of every dollar goes into programming.

Some 600 guests are expected in all at Wednesday’s event at the Chicago Hilton. In years’ past, there’s been a rainbow of political and civic persuasions. I’ve seen Gov. Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, as well as GOP funder Ron Gidwitz and Democrat donor Michael Sacks.

The $3 million-plus raised this year is a big leap from five years ago when investment manager Muneer Satter hosted a small gathering at his North Shore home to bring awareness to the group. That evening, they raised $150,000.

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