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Image by Jacek Dylag

Our 2nd Advocacy Awards Gala was a Huge Success! 

Thank you all for your support!

The additional awareness and funds raised will help us increase our support toward Inclusive Catholic Education & Meaningful Employment for children and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Diocese of Arlington.

Evening Highlights

The evening began with a Mass concelebrated by Bishop M. Burbidge and Bishop Emeritus Paul Loverde along with other priests and deacons from our Diocese. The beautiful mass set the tone for the rest of the evening. You can listen to the Bishop's homily here. 

2024 Award Recipients

Porto Charities Catalyst Award
Megan Battle

Inclusion Success Coach

St. Margaret of Castello Award for Outstanding Educator

Kimberly Lusch

The Basilica School of St. Mary


Bishop Michael Burbidge Award for Outstanding Employer

St. Leo the Great School

Fairfax, VA


St. Timothy Award for Outstanding Peer Mentor

Cooper Metz

Bishop Ireton High School


St. John Paul II Award for Outstanding School

St. Mark School

Vienna, VA

Statements from the Award the Recipients

Being a peer mentor has become a part of my identity and has been a life-changing experience. I first became a peer mentor in elementary school and I have been honored to serve in that role through high school. This experience has led to working with people with special needs outside of school as well…and has resulted in wonderful friendships. In particular, I have developed a special bond with one of my mentees, Gavin. He has brought so much happiness to me, my family, and my friends that I feel like he has given me more than I have to him.


Some of the best things about being a peer mentor are being able to see the kids you work with smile and succeed, and knowing that you did something to help them is a very good feeling. Making connections and learning how to communicate and express ourselves to each other is one of the most rewarding experiences that I have had. 


The Peer Mentor Program has changed my outlook on life. I have learned so much just by seeing how other people live and how hard it can be for them. Knowing that I can have an impact on their lives and can help them through their day is a wonderful thing. 


Peer Mentoring plays a major role at Bishop Ireton by making sure everyone can accept each other for who they are, and that we all feel a part of the BI Family. Everyday, everybody is learning a little more about each other…it makes for a very nice community.

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Special Thanks

Honorary Chairs

Tom and Laura Bell


Event Co-Chairs:

Jerry and Pamela Pelano


Gala Committee

Leo Alonso

Carmen Chiappetta

Christine Fowler

Stew McHie

Lupita Williamson

Auction Chair

Kim Perry

Nominations Chair

Kathryn Doherty

Volunteer Chair

Christine Fowler

Board of Directors

Leo Alonso, President

Tony Stafford, Vice President

John Reidt, Treasurer

Bill Mundy, Secretary

Bill Dalgetty, Governance

Jerry Pelano, Development

Art Bennett

Dan Braun

Patrick Cross

Sheila Earhardt

Therese Fimian

Christine Fowler

Paul Frommelt

Dave Hoppe

Stew McHie

Richard Milone

Fr. Rich Miserendino

Laura Saracina


Special thanks to Bishop Michael F. Burbidge and the Chancery, for their continuous support of Porto Charities.


Special thanks to Bishop Ireton High School for graciously agreeing to host our 2nd Annual Advocacy Awards.

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Special thanks to Brickwall Printing & Graphics for providing our programs for the event. 

Special thanks to Tony Stafford and Ford’s Fish Shack for generously donating two tables for parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities to attend the Gala.

Special thanks to Eve Lotterer for providing the music entertainment during our social hour tonight.

A heartfelt thanks to Christine Fowler for coordinating the many young adults volunteers who enriched our time together tonight.

Special thanks to Jeff & Sheila Earhardt, Jay Kim and Kay Lee, Maite Dougherty, Mark and Christine Fowler, the Ruffer Family Charitable Fund, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church for donating the tables for all our volunteers tonight.

Thank you to all who kindly donated items for our Gala Online Auction and to Kim Perry for spearheading this effort.

A heartfelt thanks to all the young adult volunteers and peer mentors for all their help throughout the evening. 


Thanks to our Sponsors




Paul and Geri Frommelt


Mr. and Mrs. Steve Pryor


Ford's Fish Shack

Holy Spirit Catholic Church


Bill & Marilynn Dalgetty

Bishop Ireton High School

Bishop O’Connell High School

Charlie & Sally Sullivan

David & Katherine Hamilton

Leo & Betty Alonso

St. Mark Catholic School

St. Paul VI Catholic High School


Brickwall Printing & Graphics

CRL Technology

Jerry & Pam Pelano


Mr. and Mrs. Anibal Ramos

The Honorable and Mrs. William Colwell

Bill & Marla Mundy

Dennis & Tina Chiappetta

Gibson & Aris McMahon

Phil & Pat Cooper

Saint John Paul the Great HS

St. Luke Catholic School

The Basilica School of St. Mary

Therese Fimian


Anchor Construction Corporation

Ruffer Family Charitable Fund

Jeff & Sheila Earhardt

Kathleen & David Egan

Jay-Hyung Kim

Maite Dougherty

Mark & Christine Fowler

Mark & Marianne Downs

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church

Zulmira Morais

Give us your feedback! Submit this anonymous survey about your experience at the 2024 Gala.

Thank you to our generous donors! You may pay your pledge by clicking below. 

Media Inquiries

We hope to see you at the 3rd Porto Charities Advocacy Awards in 2025!

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