Reston Celebrates at 23rd Annual Best of Reston Gala

More than 800 guests gathered at the Hyatt Regency Reston on Thursday to pay tribute to founder Bob Simon’s 100th birthday and celebrate this year’s honorees at the Best of Reston Awards and Gala.

The gala capped a week of celebrations in Reston, including Founder’s Day and a VIP premiere of the documentary “Another Way of Living: The Story of Reston, VA.”

Simon was also a honorary co-chair of the event. He challenged Restonians to meet his goal of raising more than $1 million over the last two years. Patrons answered the call, raising $675,000 in 2014 for a two-year total of $1,178,000.

“It is such a big number, it is hard to express the appreciation and gratitude I have for everyone here,” Cornerstones CEO Kerrie Wilson told the crowd. “There is something very special about the community that says ‘you are welcome here.’ ”

Wilson announced last night that Cornerstones is about to purchase 48 more affordable housing units, which will help the nonprofit double its housing stock, another challenge Simon asked residents to meet. The new apartments are located at North Point.

The Best of Reston awards honor individuals and businesses for their commitment to community service. This years honorees:

Individual Community Leaders

Carol Ann Bradley — The former educator has given back to the community through volunteer work with Global Camps Africa, Friends of the Reston Regional Library and the Embry Rucker Community Shelter, among others. She help found the mentoring organizations The Links, Inc., and Educators Then, Now and Forever. She has also served on the board of the Reston Community Center.

Jerry Ferguson — Ferguson is the director of Development and Outreach for Fairfax Public Access. He has donated many hours to produce and film videos to aid fundraising and public relations for organizations such as FACETS, Leadership Fairfax, Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce (GRCC) and Cornerstones.

Cate Fulkerson -The Reston Association CEO is also the chair of Reston’s Character Counts! Coalition, chairs GRCC’s annual Ethics Day and is an Emerging Leaders Institute Mentor.

Bonnie Haukness — A Reston Realtor, Haukness chairs the annual Reston Home Tour to benefit the Reston Historic Trust. She also co-chairs the annual Capital Steps benefit for Cornerstones and was instrumental in establishing scholarships for campers at Reston Association summer camps, among other projects.

Davida Luehrs — Luehrs uses her life experience to aid the low-vision community. She has been a leader with the Northern Virginia Chapter of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, the Sterling Lions, the American Council of the Blind and the Visually Impaired People of Reston. She established the local VisionWalk and has raised more than $1 million since 2007. She also volunteers with the Boy and Girl Scouts, Herndon Middle and High School Bands and Reston Swim Team Association.

Civic/Community Leader

HomeAid Northern Virginia — This group was founded in 2001 by members of the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association. HomeAid helps renovate shelters, transitional and affordable housing and has completed 70 projects and helped more than 10,000 people.

Small Business Leader

Brennan & Waite, PLC — This legal firm, founded by husband and wife Matthew Brennan and the late Carol Waite, has supported GRCC, Habitat for Humanity, Let’s Help Kids, and other local organizations. Brennan has worked in the community to help other schools adopt and Ethics Day program, recruited candidates for Leadership Fairfax and funded scholarships so nonprofit leaders could participate.

Corporate Business Leader

Cooley, LLC – Large law firm Cooley, with offices at Reston Town Center, encourages employees to give back. The firm matches employee fundraising and cumulatively contributed more than $1 million last year. More than 466 Cooley lawyers have contributed more than 33,000 hours on 687 pro bono matters annually.

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