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An R&W Charity Event
Premier Night at Circus Thrills Kids, Caregivers

Photos by Ernie Branson

One of the rites of spring in Washington is the arrival of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. For the past several years, NIH's Recreation and Welfare Association has worked with the circus to provide "premier night" for a special audience of pediatric patients and their families.

On Mar. 21 at the MCI Center, more than 10,000 people attended premier night as R&W helped distribute some $38,000 worth of tickets to attendees. More than 100 of the guests hailed from the Clinical Center and Children's Inn at NIH, said Randy Schools, R&W chief executive.

All guests enjoyed a free meal at the center's F St. Grill, plus the circus performers, many of whom mingled among the youngsters.

In addition to NIH patients, guests included kids from many local hospitals and from such organizations as Bethesda Cares, Bethesda Youth Services, the Montgomery County Police PAL Program, St. Ann's Infant and Maternity Home and other groups, Schools said.

On a chariot ride (at right) are youngsters (front, from l) Brianna Drose, Huddy Sullah, Ringling clown, and Kendrick Blanding. At rear are (from l) Shandell Jones, Dennis Lerritos and Sean Harris.

A hula-hooper performs for the crowd of some 10,000 Premier Night guests.

Sierra Stuerman and her mother Mardell enjoy a clown's visit.

Alyssa Boyd appreciates a hot dog from the MCI Center's F Street Grill.

Jason Newton (l) and Jennifer Doolittle kibitz with a clown.

Several young relatives of patients were also on hand to enjoy the performers.

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