Fundraiser supporting military, SEAL families to be held March 21 in Rancho Santa Fe


About 400 people are expected to raise awareness and funds for military families during the SEAL-Naval Special Warfare Family Foundation’s fourth annual fundraiser March 21 at the Del Mar Country Club in Rancho Santa Fe. Founded in 2008, the nonprofit supports Navy SEALs and their families through a variety of programs.

“The Del Mar Country Club is honored to host the SEAL-NSW Family Foundation again this year,” said foundation board member Dominique Plewes, who is co-chairing the event with her mother, philanthropist Madeleine Pickens, for the second consecutive year. The fundraiser has always taken place at the Del Mar Country Club, which is owned by Pickens.

“I don’t think that any of us can be too thankful for our military and their families,” Plewes said. “And as a board member, I know how important these programs are and what a difference it makes in their lives.”

The fundraiser will kick off with a scramble golf tournament, followed in the evening with a cocktail reception, live and silent auctions, and dinner and entertainment.

Professional golf coach Hank Haney will provide a pre-tournament clinic and exhibition for all players. During the gala, Crisa Herzog, daughter of retired Navy SEAL Chief Mike Sandlin, will sing the National Anthem. Gen. Michael Hayden, a retired four-star general who served as director of the CIA and the NSA, will be the keynote speaker.

“You can’t do enough to help these families,” said Plewes, who noted the cause is close to her heart, as her father, Robert Richter, served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. “If anyone can give back, they should. The Navy SEALs and their families deserve it more than anything.”

With the motto “Taking care of their family while they protect ours,” the foundation raises awareness and funds for programs in direct support of NSW families on a local, national and global scale.

In 2014, the foundation spent $2.4 million on a variety of support programs and organizations, including NSWKids, a nonprofit that provides educational diagnostic testing and tutoring to families in the NSW community, and Sisterhood, a worldwide NSW spousal support network.

Other foundation-supported programs and services include family services, emergency assistance, transition assistance, wounded care, bereavement support and remembrance support.

“There’s a lot of great programs already in existence. We work in complementing where there might be gaps,” said executive director Bill Fenick, who joined the foundation in November after serving in the U.S. Navy for 28 years. He most recently served as director of public affairs and corporate communication for the Naval Special Warfare Command in San Diego, a position he held since 2010.

“Our mission talks to supporting the individual and the family through a bunch of programs,” added Fenick, who grew up in a Navy family. “They’re targeted to maintain a resilient, sustainable and healthy force. We believe that resilient families will help create a more resilient force.”

The golf and gala fundraiser attracted 400 guests and raised more than $1.3 million last year. Few tickets are available for this year’s nearly sold-out event.

“It’s a well-attended and popular event because it’s got a really meaningful purpose,” Fenick said.

The golf event begins with breakfast and registration from 9-10 a.m., followed by the scramble golf tournament at 10:30 a.m. A cocktail reception and silent auction will take place from 4:30-6 p.m., with dinner, entertainment and a live auction starting at 6:30 p.m.

For event details, reservations and sponsorships, contact Carol A. Tuller at 619-344-0344, ext. 715, or email