U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin to Speak
The President of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. which supports numerous national programs to help Veterans and their families; a young retired Corporal from Northern Virginia who returned from Afghanistan a quadriplegic and went on to co-found a rehabilitation center in Chantilly, VA. for other severely injured Veterans; and a woman from Chevy Chase, MD. who fought to help her husband recover his life after he suffered severe injuries on his fifth combat tour in Afghanistan are the honorees to be celebrated at the PenFed Foundation’s 13th Annual Night of Heroes Gala on May 4, 2017.
Each year, this event recognizes outstanding individuals and organizations for their contributions to military personnel, Veterans and related causes. One of Washington’s premier fundraising events for the military community, the Night of Heroes Gala raises on average well over $1 million in a single evening. All proceeds go towards supporting more than 35,000 Veterans each year.
This year’s honorees will be recognized for inspiring other heroes:
Community Hero Award: Bob Carter, President of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. and Executive General Manager, Toyota Motor Corporation, who oversees Toyota and Lexus Brands in North America. Under Mr. Carter’s leadership, Toyota has invested in numerous military community-based philanthropic programs, including the Toyota Veterans Association. Since 2010, the company has funded over 300 students and awarded over $1 million in scholarships to the children of Marines and Navy Corpsmen through their work with the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation. Mr. Carter helped establish a partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to sponsor Hiring Our Heroes, a nationwide initiative to help Veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities. In addition, Toyota is the National Host Sponsor of the National Veterans Wheelchair Games.
Military Hero Award: Corporal (Ret.) Joshua Himan. Corporal Himan is a Marine who was severely injured while deployed during Operation Enduring Freedom. His injuries resulted in him being paralyzed from the chest down. That has not stopped Corporal Himan from forging a new life back home in Northern Virginia that includes serving other severely injured Veterans. Corporal Himan co-founded the Driver Rehabilitation Center of Excellence in Chantilly, Va., which restores mobility and independence to severely wounded warriors and others through a comprehensive driving program. The Center incorporates the program Corporal Himan went through at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and includes customizing cars to meet individual mobility needs. Corporal Himan also works as a financial planner and is earning his second master’s degree in applied economics from Johns Hopkins University.
Hero at Home Award: Claudia Avila, wife and caregiver of severely wounded Army Captain Luis Avila. On his fifth deployment in Afghanistan in December 2011, Captain Avila lost his leg, fractured his spine, suffered two heart attacks and sustained a severe traumatic brain injury. Two weeks later, he arrived in the United States in a coma. Mrs. Avila was confronted with the decision whether or not to take her husband off of life support. Believing in her husband’s ability to recover, she has helped him regain his sight, speech, limited mobility and life – while continuing to raise their three young sons. Captain Avila today continues his rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda and Mrs. Avila’s work as his caregiver continues as she takes her husband through each step of his day focused on her number one goal in life: to make him more comfortable and his life as normal as possible. She also serves as an advocate and voice to many other caregivers with similar situations.
“Our Nation’s Defenders and their families continue to face many challenges long after they return home from service,” said Tamara Darvish, PenFed Foundation President and PenFed Credit Union Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “The PenFed Foundation exists because there are critical needs facing our active military, our Veterans and their families that are not being met. We change lives every day by closing those gaps and making sure that a medical emergency does not turn into a financial crisis. We are grateful for the generous support the Foundation receives enabling us to deliver these critical programs.”
Since it was founded in 2001, the PenFed Foundation has provided more than $30 million of financial support to active military personnel, Veterans and their caregivers. To learn more about the PenFed Foundation and see a short video about its mission, please visit The PenFed Foundation’s website.
The Commander Sponsor of this year’s gala is PSCU, which donated $100,000.
The black tie event takes place at Trump® International Hotel. More information is available at PenFedFoundation.org/2017Gala.
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, build strong partnerships, and engage a dedicated corps of volunteers in its mission. 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: www.penfedfoundation.org.