Raising money for wounded veterans was in the cards Sept. 11 at Bethesda Country Club.
About 100 men and women gathered to play Duplicate Bridge at the country club for the second annual fundraising tournament benefitting Cause and organized by Potomac resident Leslie Lavalleye.
“Cause is a group that promotes recreation and relaxation for wounded service members and their families,” Lavalleye said. “They are a bare bones organization and I thought that with bridge I could raise awareness, raise funds and help the soldiers.”
Cause, which stands for Comfort for America’s Uniformed Services, was started in 2003 by four Vietnam veterans and their wives who gave small gift packs of personal care items to wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital, then in Washington, D.C. Now, Cause provides entertainment and other services to wounded military members at 13 military hospitals, including Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.
“It boomed into what it is now,” said Brianna Broad, Cause development coordinator.
Each player paid $50 to join the bridge fundraiser. Players played the card game in groups of four, quietly considering their next move in the strategic card game. They also got a chance to bid on bridge lessons at a silent auction. Lavalleye estimated the 9/11 card party would raise more $5,000 for Cause.
“This is amazing,” she said. “It’s just fabulous having all these people and now they all know about Cause.”
Before the bridge games began, Arthur Rizer, a U.S. Department of Justice lawyer, a wounded veteran of the war in Iraq and a Cause board member, spoke to the group.
At his feet was Danny, his medical service dog, who, Rizer said, people probably were most interested in hearing about.
“Danny is a seizure alert dog. He can tell before I have a seizure and will catch me if I fall,” Rizer said.
Rizer of Springfield, Va., said he was embedded with Iraqi troops when his convoy ran into an IED [improvised explosive device]. He was one of 19 casualties.
“I have a traumatic brain disorder but I’m still kicking,” he said.
Noting that the United States has been at war for more than 10 years, and that more than 650,000 people “have paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Rizer said it is our responsibility as a nation to take care of those who have served.
He spoke of the value of the work of Cause in providing massage and Reiki treatment at military hospitals, offering free video games and movies to help soldiers pass the time while recuperating and providing catered meals to soldiers and their families.
“One percent [of the population] has done most of the heavy lifting for the United States,” he said. “Individuals don’t go to war, nations do. We have a national obligation to [help] those who fought.”