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Celebrating the NIH Children’s Inn; No RFI for TSA-friendly shoes?

Celebrating the NIH Children’s Inn
It was a night for the children — the children of the Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health.
For the 10th year, AFCEA International’s Bethesda, Md., chapter hosted a black-tie benefit gala that supports the organization.

If you don’t know about the Children’s Inn, it is similar to the Ronald McDonald houses, where  patients’ families can stay near the hospital and have as normal a life as possible.

The gala, always one of the better events of the year, includes dinner, after-dinner dancing, an auction and charity games.

The gala typically features one of the Inn’s families, who talk about life there.

That is always one of the highlights of the evening, but this year’s kid, 10-year-old Allen, was particularly memorable. The boy has a genetic disease that causes tumors to form on his spinal column. And he was simply incredible.

He was absolutely ecstatic about getting Shirley Temples to drink, and when his mother introduced him as a 9-year-old, he quickly tapped her and whispered, “I’m 10, Mom.” In fact, it was his birthday Saturday, so all 700-plus people sang Allen the most wonderful version of “Happy Birthday” I have heard.

One of the most delightful moments was when Allen’s mother said the Inn felt almost like home, and Allen was by her side shaking his head.

Clearly, it isn’t home, but his mother said the inn is the next-best thing for families with seriously ill children. Allen also did something of a runway twirl when his mother talked about how thrilled he was that he got to wear fancy clothes for the gala event.

AFCEA Bethesda raised at least $475,000 for the inn Saturday, organizers said. The cost to host a family at the inn is $93 a night, so the money will provide more than 5,107 overnights.

The live auction always features interesting items, but the most sentimental ones are the quilts made by children at the inn. This year’s two quilts raised about $15,000 each.

For more information about donating to the inn — or to see photos from the gala — go to FCW.com’s Download.

No RFI for TSA-friendly shoes?
The Transportation Security Administration, which is always seeking ways to move people through airport security in a more timely fashion, has turned to the luggage industry for help.

TSA hopes to spur the design of computer bags that would reduce if not eliminate the need to remove and replace laptop PCs at security checkpoints.

The impact of such a development would be far-reaching, according to a request for information issued last month. “It could lower passenger stress levels, increase checkpoint throughput and reduce the number of claims TSA receives for laptops that have been damaged during screening.”

For now, TSA is only asking companies to submit white papers describing potential solutions. The agency will pick the best ideas and request prototype bags, the RFI states.

Here is a sign that some bag manufacturers are not used to dealing with the government procurement process: One of the questions TSA received in response to its RFI was, “What exactly do you mean by ‘submit a white paper’?” 

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