National Baseball Hall of Famer Tony La Russa and Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick Lead List of Honorees and Speakers at PenFed Foundation’s 14th Annual Night of Heroes Gala to Honor Veterans and Community Supporters

National Baseball Hall of Famer Tony La Russa and Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick Lead List of Honorees and Speakers at PenFed Foundation’s 14th Annual Night of Heroes Gala to Honor Veterans and Community Supporters

Posted April 18 2018
by Media Relations

TYSONS, Va., April 18, 2018— On May 2, 2018, the PenFed Foundation will host the 14th Annual Night of Heroes Gala, Washington DC's premier fundraising event for our nation’s defenders at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The gala will honor U.S. Army Master Sgt. (Ret.) and Purple Heart recipient Cedric King, National Baseball Hall of Famer Tony La Russa, and Allied Solutions CEO Pete Hilger and his wife Debbie Hilger. Special guests include New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, Emmy Award-winning WUSA9 Washington, DC investigative reporter Andrea McCarren and more.

“Courageous men and women in the United States Armed Forces risk everything to grant Americans the continued promise of freedom,” said James Schenck, President and CEO of PenFed Credit Union. “They leave their families and the comforts of home to defend people they will never know. At the Night of Heroes Gala, we honor those who serve and the great Americans who donate time, money and ingenuity to help our military members.”

In 2017, the Night of Heroes Gala raised nearly $1.5 million. Since its founding in 2001, the PenFed Foundation has provided more than $30 million in financial support and contributes to more than 2,500 veterans, active military members and their families each year.

The PenFed Foundation announces the 2018 honorees:

Military Hero Award. U.S. Army Master Sgt. (Ret.) Cedric King. On July 25, 2012, while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, MSG (Ret.) King was severely injured after stepping on an improvised explosive device. He suffered permanent loss to part of his right arm and hand and the bilateral amputation of both legs. “I’ve had low moments, to where I feel like it’d be better if I just died,” said King. “But my heart was saying, ‘There’s so much good to give. If you could just get out of this hospital bed, you could probably be pretty inspiring to other people. Keep fighting.’”

After 21 months of recovery, King completed the Boston Marathon on prosthetic blades and went on to run the 70.3-mile Half Ironman triathlon, the 2014 New York City Marathon and the 48.6-mile Disney Marathon series. King is the recipient of numerous medals and awards, including the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Community Hero Award. Tony La Russa is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and co-founder, with his wife Elaine, of the Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF). La Russa has managed the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals, leading teams to three World Series Championships and three pennants and played in the major league.   

Since its founding in 1990, ARF has rescued over 38,000 animals. ARF’s flagship program, Pets and Vets, trains rescue dogs to provide emotional support to veterans readjusting to civilian life. Described as “not a leash, but a lifeline,” the program has transformed the lives of 600 active and retired service men and women.

“Our veterans come back and some of them have traumatic brain injuries, depression or anxiety. We’ve seen that matching them up with a shelter animal that has had a hard life as well can bring out the bond between the two of them, as well as extend beyond the veteran into their family. It’s a battle buddy for the veteran,” La Russa said. “We just are so excited about this program because we’re saving both ends of the leash.”

Bill Belichick will introduce La Russa and present the award. Belichick was raised in Annapolis, Md. where his father was a longtime assistant football coach and scout at the United States Naval Academy. Belichick said, “My father and the Naval Academy cultivated my love of football and a deep respect for the United States Armed Forces.  It is my honor to join with friends and families of veterans in saying, ‘Thank you.’”

Corporate Hero Award. CEO of Allied Solutions Pete Hilger and his wife Debbie Hilger will be honored for the tremendous contributions they have made to service members and families.

Pete and Debbie’s commitment to caring for military heroes crystallized when they attended a PenFed Foundation gala in 2005. Pete said, “At my table, there was an active duty veteran that was recovering from a very significant injury. All he could talk about was wanting to get back out to his team, back out with the troops, because that’s where he felt his family was. When we got back home, my wife looked at me and said, ‘We can never miss one of these again.’” Under Pete’s leadership, the staff at Allied have made contributing to military members a corporate priority. Over the years, Allied and its employees have donated and helped raise more than $3.5 million for the PenFed Foundation.

There will be a media opportunity with the honorees at 5:00 p.m. The official program will begin with a VIP sponsor reception at 5:30 p.m. The general reception and silent auction will open at 6:00 p.m., with dinner and the program at 7:00 p.m. Emmy Award-winning WUSA9 reporter Andrea McCarren will emcee. The gala is a black-tie event.

The Commander Sponsor of this year’s gala is PSCU Financial Services, which donated $100,000. Additional sponsorships and individual tickets can be purchased on the PenFed Foundation website.   

For more information, contact Robin Pence at or 571-341-6627 or 571- 422-7664 or Lindsey Pinkston at or 703-973-8064.


About the PenFed Foundation

Founded in 2001, the PenFed Foundation is a national nonprofit organization committed to helping members of our military community secure their financial future. It provides service members, veterans, their families and support networks with the skills and resources they need to improve their lives through programs on financial education, credit-building, home ownership, and short-term assistance. Affiliated with PenFed Credit Union, the Foundation has the resources to effectively reach military communities across the nation and forge strong partnerships.. The credit union funds the Foundation’s personnel and most operational costs, demonstrating its strong commitment to the programs the Foundation provides. To learn more, visit


About PenFed Credit Union

Established in 1935 as the War Department Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) is America’s second-largest federal credit union, serving over 1.6 million members worldwide with more than $23 billion in assets. Our long-standing mission has been to provide superior financial services in a cost-effective manner, while being responsive to members’ needs. PenFed Credit Union offers market-leading mortgages, automobile loans, credit cards, student loans, checking, certificates, and a wide range of other financial services with members’ interests always in mind. PenFed Credit Union serves a diverse population, and no military service is required to join. PenFed Credit Union offers many paths to membership, including numerous employee groups and association affiliations. PenFed Credit Union is federally insured by the NCUA and is an equal housing lender. To learn more about PenFed Credit Union, visit, like us on Facebook and follow us @PenFed on Twitter. Interested in working for PenFed? Check us out on LinkedIn. We are proud to be an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer.