Founded by graduates of West Point in honor of Col. John “Johnny Mac” McHugh, killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010, the Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund made its first foray into Houston and hit a virtual gold mine, earning $1.4 million, funds earmarked for education programs and assistance to veterans.
A sell-out crowd of more than 450 gathered at Hotel ZaZa, where Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land was the event's presenting sponsor.
While Black-ish star Anthony Anderson served as master of ceremonies, it was Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, who delivered the compelling message of the importance of providing meaningful assistance to soldiers and their families. McHugh's daughter, Kelly McHugh, gave a moving presentation on her father who served as an Army aviator for 24 years.
Additional important military figures in the house were Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Gary L. Littrell, retired Army Command Sergeant Major; Folds of Honor founder Maj. Dan Rooney; Marcus Luttrell, retired Navy Seal and subject of Lone Survivor and retired Col. Miguel Howe, director of Military Service Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute.
Among corporate leaders helping raise the significant sum were Mercedes-Benz USA president and CEO Stephen Cannon, president and CEO of EMCOR Group Inc. Anthony Guzzi, president and CEO of 7-Eleven Joseph DePinto, owner and president of Mercedes-Benz Sugar Land Ken Enders and chairman of the Dallas-based Park Place Dealerships Ken Schnitzer.
Rounding out the impressive turnout were MaryEllen Picciuto, president of the Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund; retired Houston Rocket Tracy McGrady; University of St. Thomas president Bob Ivany; former Major League pitcher Kevin Coffman and Cynthia and David Kim, founders of the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation.