Little Rock, Arkansas: In a grand display of patriotism and community spirit, the Arkansas National Guard Foundation hosted its first National Guard Birthday Gala on December 13, 2023. Held at the prestigious Junior League of Little Rock Building, the event marked a significant milestone, celebrating 387 years of service by the National Guard. The gala opened with a stirring video message from Governor Sarah Sanders, setting the tone for an evening of homage and gratitude.
Colonel Paul Jara, President of the Foundation’s Board, masterfully led the proceedings. The Board, including Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Workman, Major Adam Warford, and Senior Master Sergeant Brian Mays, among others, were duly recognized. A heartfelt thanks was extended to sponsors and business leaders for their unwavering support, which is instrumental in advancing the Foundation’s mission.
The keynote speakers, Major General Jonathan Stubbs, Lieutenant Governor Leslie Rutledge, and award recipient Mr. Charles Nabholz, delivered powerful messages. MG Stubbs eloquently spoke on the importance of community support for the military, deeming Arkansas as an ideal place for young people to start their careers. He affirmed that “there is no better place” for an Arkansan to kickstart their future. Lieutenant Governor Rutledge highlighted the Arkansas National Guard’s global role and its crucial response to state emergencies. Mr. Nabholz, in his address, shared his family’s service history and longstanding commitment to the military community, further emphasizing the night’s theme of dedication and service.
The gala was not merely a celebratory event but also a platform for raising awareness and funds for the Foundation’s vital mission. The ambiance was filled with pageantry, gratitude, and a strong sense of community. A recurring theme throughout the evening was the establishment of an emergency relief resource for service members, echoing and reinforcing the National Guard’s motto of being “always ready, always there.”
Proceeds from the gala are earmarked for the Foundation’s emergency relief efforts, including the Survivor Emergency Relief Fund and the Military Family Relief Trust Fund. These initiatives are crucial in supporting service members and their families during times of economic hardship and emergencies.
Looking ahead, the Foundation has set a goal to raise an additional $35,000 in 2024 to meet the growing demand for emergency relief. This initiative comes on the heels of significant contributions made in the past year, including extensive support in the aftermath of the 31 March tornado that struck the Little Rock area.
The evening culminated with closing remarks by board member Mr. Benjamin Moore. He praised the National Guard’s leaders and the Foundation for their outstanding work. In a generous move, Edward Jones announced a matching pledge of $10,000 to any funds raised during the gala, invigorating the spirit of giving and amplifying the Foundation’s capacity to assist more service personnel and their families.
For more information on the Arkansas National Guard Foundation and its initiatives, the public is encouraged to visit the official website and follow the Foundation on social media.
Since 1967, the Arkansas National Guard Foundation has provided over $1.8 million in scholarships to nearly 2,200 Guard Members, Dependents, and Survivors. Additionally, since 2005, The Military Family Relief Trust Fund (administered by the Foundation) has provided over $250,000 for grants to National Guard families in need of Emergency Assistance.
For more information about the National Guard Birthday Gala, the Charles Nabholz Award for Excellence in Military Community Support, including ticket availability, sponsorship opportunities, and a complete program schedule, please visit our website at angf.us/.