Article and photos by Chris Martin, Special to the Columbus School of Law
The heads of CUA Law’s right-leaning Republican National Lawyers Association and left-leaning American Constitution Society put politics aside last week to raise money and lift a glass in honor of U.S. troops.
For the second year in a row, Meaghan Pedati ’14, the chair of RNLA, and Michelle Lease ’14, president of ACS (left), sponsored the Toast Our Troops fundraising event, which collected $1,700, with more donations expected.
“It really comes down to troops and children,” Pedati said at the Nov. 14 event at Dupont Circle’s Thomas Foolery bar. She said they are “the only two things that people will rally behind,” despite political differences.
Funds from the event will go toward a care package for Marines stationed in the country of Georgia, and the remaining money will go to the Wounded Warriors Project, an organization dedicated to helping injured service members. The care packages include magazines, toiletries and food.
Raffle tickets were sold and drawn at the event, and winners were able to choose from a selection of gift baskets and other items. Among the prizes was an array of Washington sports paraphernalia: a photo of the Washington Wizards signed by basketball player Bradley Beal, a baseball signed by Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond and a pair of gloves from the NFL Salute to Service campaign donated by Washington Redskins wide receiver Josh Morgan.
A second stream of donations came from a novel source that proved to be a crowd pleaser. CUA Law faculty members served as bartenders for thirsty students, competing among themselves to generate the most bar tips in support of the fundraising effort. In addition to bragging rights, the winner would receive a trophy dubbed the “Victory Monster.”
First up behind the bar was defending champion Professor Antonio Perez (left). Tip jars runneth over as Perez kept up a steady flow of libations. But he had formidable opponents to compete with.
Professor A.G. Harmon took orders behind the bar alongside Perez. Harmon said he participated because he believes in what the Wounded Warrior Project stands for. Reflecting on his time behind the bar, he called the experience a “perfect storm of events for a good cause.”
Professor Cara Drinan (left) was joined behind the bar by Professor Sarah Duggin. The fundraiser, Duggin said, is “a way for students and faculty to come together to do something to support our troops, because they do so much for us.”
One of Duggin’s students, Alison Landry ‘15, used the bulk of her tips to cast a vote for Duggin.
“I’ll just put the bigger tips towards Duggin,” she said, in hopes the professor would win.But whatever the end result, Landry said she’d still be satisfied. “It’s all going somewhere good, so I can’t complain.”
Fundraising host Pedati predicted first year law students would use their tip money to cast the deciding vote.
Jessica Corrales ‘16, a first year, anticipated her classmates, much like herself, would rally behind Drinan. “She’s getting my $20 ring,” Corrales said, holding up her right hand to display a twenty-dollar bill wrapped around her pinky finger. Her classmate Andriana Vander Griend ‘16 followed suit.
The last round of bartenders included senior reference librarian Steve Young and law student Jonathan Tabacoff (left). Yes, you read that correctly – a student managed to find his way into the contest.
“I have a feeling that Jonathan probably sweet-talked his way into it,” said Caitlyn McCarthy ‘14, who’s on the path to joining the Navy’s Judge Advocate General's Corps after graduation.
Lease didn’t seem surprised: “He’s sort of like our mascot,” she said of Tabacoff. “He’s very involved, he’s very loud.”
And Tabacoff’s charisma paid off. He ended the night with the most tips, taking home the Victory Monster.
Pedati said the event was better attended than last year, and the $1,700 total more than tripled the amount raised at the 2012 event.
Lease and Pedati, who will be graduating in May 2014, hope that Toast Our Troops continues to be an annual event supported by Catholic University students and faculty. Pedati said small tasks were delegated to two other Catholic University students in the Republican National Lawyers Association in hopes they would continue the fundraiser after she and Lease receive their degree.
Still, Pedati said that Toast Our Troops will eventually need to be grown through the support of Catholic University.
“It’s really going to have to become a school sponsored event,” she said.
Chris Martin is a freelance journalist. More of his work can be seen at www.chrisrmartin.com. Full disclosure: this reporter feels it’s important to note that he is friends with Michelle Lease and Meaghan Pedati.