Party for a cause: USO NW to benefit from Seafair Ball

SEATTLE - With an average of 8,000 servicemembers coming through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport's USO Center each month, the current 3,400 square-foot space that the center currently occupies is busting at the seams.

Built to house Sea-Tac's police headquarters, at least 1,200 soldiers and their families utilize the space each week, making Sea-Tac's USO Center the busiest in the country.

Recognizing the need for more space, the Port of Seattle Commissioners approved 7,000 square feet within Sea-Tac for the USO Northwest to expand into.

The new center will allow the organization to improve their current programs, enhance food services, sleeping accommodations, showering facilities, and even provide separate family areas - for $1.7 million.

The USO Northwest expansion project at Sea-Tac is about $300,000 away from reaching their goal, and have partnered with Seafair Ball and Mercer Events to help raise enough money to outfit the center.

"Seattle is one of the top cities in the nation when it comes to fundraising with charitable events and philanthropies," Mike Mercer of Mercer Events says. "It's an opportunity to bring awareness to a group of people who probably don't know what the USO is, or the project that's going on at Sea-Tac."

This year's Seafair Ball, sponsored by Admiral Jet, will be a black-tie optional party held at the Seattle Design Center on August 1, 2014.

"For the last 33 years the Seafair Ball has been a kind of who's-who, wild, alternative party in Seattle," Mercer says.

The legendary event will feature live entertainment and music, along with silent auction and raffle items. Key military figures will also be in attendance, sharing moving stories and celebrating the evening alongside party goers.

"We're excited to bring all these different groups of people under one roof, and give the USO a platform to not only raise money but to bring awareness to their cause," Mercer says.

Proceeds from the 2014 Seafair Ball will go towards the completion of the new USO Northwest Center, and will help support over 150,000 traveling servicemembers and their families each year.

"The financial support from the Seafair Ball will have a long-lasting impact on servicemembers and their families in the Northwest," Donald Leingang, executive director of USO Northwest says. "Our new USO Sea-Tac Center will enable us to keep pace with the increased demand for the services and programs we provide our military and their families for years to come."

General admission tickets to Seafair Ball are $75, and VIP packages start at $125. All tickets include complimentary food, free parking, and can be bought online.

Unable to attend the event, but want to support travelling military members in the Northwest? Donations to USO Northwest can also be made online.