American Airlines, Fort Worth Airpower Foundation Present Sky Ball Fundraiser This Weekend Benefiting Military Families

Ninth Annual Patriotic Gala Supports U.S. Service Members and Families, Commemorates 150th Anniversary of the Medal of Honor.

FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The ninth annual Sky Ball fundraiser, presented by American Airlines and the Fort Worth Airpower Foundation (FWAPF), along with presenting sponsor Bell Helicopter, will be held Saturday, Oct. 22, at American's Alliance Airport Maintenance and Engineering Base (AFW) in Fort Worth. Proceeds from the event will benefit North Texas military families and a number of organizations that directly support service members, veterans and their families.

This year's celebration commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Medal of Honor, as well as the centennials of Navy and Marine Corps aviation. More than 700 American Airlines and American Eagle employee volunteers will support the event, which will feature legendary musician and entertainer Tony Orlando as co-master of ceremonies alongside former local NBC news anchor Mike Snyder. The program includes a headline performance by award-winning actor and musician Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band.

Sky Ball IX has expanded its fundraising goal to $1 million to broaden the support the FWAPF can provide to those who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms we enjoy. Over the past four years, Sky Ball has raised more than $1.5 million. This has allowed the FWAPF to contribute to many projects that directly support members of all branches of our military and their families through various contingency funds at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth and other programs.

"All of us at American and American Eagle are extremely fortunate to have numerous opportunities to take part in events and programs that support our men and women in uniform and their families year-round," said Bob Reding, American's Executive Vice President – Operations. "Sky Ball is one of our most important events because the proceeds directly benefit our local heroes and their families. We are especially proud to honor those who have received the nation's highest military honor bestowed by Congress – our Medal of Honor recipients – and we are humbled by their presence at Sky Ball IX."

Nearly 20 of the nation's 86 living Medal of Honor recipients will attend and be honored throughout the evening, among them former Army staff sergeant Salvatore Giunta, one of the most recent recipients. The program will include a special swearing-in ceremony for more than a dozen new recruits to various branches of the military, to be led by Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Cmdr. Mike Thornton, U.S. Navy retired. Sky Ball will also honor several wounded warriors who will be flown in from Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, and Walter Reed National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. The travel is in conjunction with Sentinels of Freedom, a military nonprofit organization that assists severely wounded service members.

The evening will include a performance by "America's Tenor," Steve Amerson; a video tribute to families of fallen soldiers by artist Phil Taylor of the American Fallen Soldiers Project; and a static display of military aircraft.

To accompany the gourmet dinner that will be served to Sky Ball attendees, ONEHOPE Wines will debut a new commemorative wine, with proceeds from this special auction item benefiting the Medal of Honor Foundation. The evening would not be complete without the legendary military grog ceremony, a tribute to the nation's service members and veterans.

In addition, this year's Sky Ball has been expanded to include festivities throughout the weekend. On Friday, Oct. 21, a private "Honoring Our Heroes" luncheon will be held at the American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum for the Medal of Honor recipients. It will showcase the WWII Freedom Flight, a "living history" educational program held earlier this year. Developed by the local Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District (GCISD) and American Airlines, WWII Freedom Flight is a pilot program that paired students with World War II veterans for a trip to Washington, D.C. For many of the veterans, it was their first visit to the National World War II Memorial. GCISD Superintendent Robin Ryan will be a featured speaker at the luncheon.

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