Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. " The C4ISR Center of Excellence rolled out the red carpet June 25, 2011 in a grand ball and auction to support military families in need.

The C4ISR Center of Excellence became the new home to “Support Our Heroes” ball as more than 500 people turned out to raise $300,000 for the Fisher House Foundation, the foundation that provides free lodging for military families when family members are hospitalized.

The “Support Our Heroes” event began seven years ago when several organizations from Fort Monmouth, N.J., collaborated with local industry to find a way to help Soldiers and their families.

They discovered the Fisher House Foundation, an organization established in 1990 by Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher, as a way to give back to military families for their extreme and selfless sacrifices. Similar to the Ronald McDonald House, the Fisher House Foundation provides “comfort homes” that are built on the grounds of major military and Veterans Administration medical centers here and abroad. These homes offer free shelter and support to military families during a medical crisis.

The effort to re-establish the C4ISR Ball on Aberdeen Proving Ground after the move from Fort Monmouth was a deliberate effort to keep some of this tradition of the closing installation alive at the new home on APG. Donations from the previous six years total more than $900,000.

“The event not only created awareness of the needs of returning warriors, past warriors and their families, but also transferred a piece of the heart and soul of Fort Monmouth to Aberdeen,” said Ed Carnes, vice president of USfalcon and chair of the Fisher House Committee for the "Support Our Heroes" ball. The committee is comprised of government, industry and local organization participants who volunteer their time and efforts. “For myself and many others, this was the final BRAC movement; a transition of love and hope from Fort Monmouth to Aberdeen Proving Ground. Some may not wear the uniform but support as they can. We call them the ‘Heart Corps.’”

After collaborating with committee members and installation leadership, the new C4ISR Center of Excellence campus courtyard served as the new home. Three temporary, and air-conditioned tents were brought in by the private venture to host the venue. The event highlights included dinner and dancing, silent auction, and a performance by the 82nd Airborne Division's All American Chorus from Fort Bragg, N.C.

“We knew as a committee we had to meet or surpass the expectations of our past six events, both esoterically and financially,” said Carnes. “Plus we had the full support of a new exciting group of APG volunteers, just chomping at the bit to jump in and help.”

According to Carnes, the support provided to Soldiers and their families is immeasurable. The beauty of this foundation is that no family member ever pays for their stay at a Fisher House. Today, there are 54 Fisher Houses located on 21 military installations and 17 VA medical centers.

Currently, there are 12 more houses under construction or in design.

Organizational support for the C4ISR charitable event included the Fort Monmouth and Aberdeen Chapters of the Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association; the Army Aviation Association of America Mid Atlantic Chapter; the Association of Old Crows Aberdeen and Garden State Chapters; and the Association of United States Army chapters from both Aberdeen and Fort Monmouth. Private sector sponsors included CSC, SAIC, General Dynamics C4 Systems, ITT, ManTech, USfalcon, Inc., Harris Corporation, CACI, Future Skies, Ryland Homes and BMW of Bel Air.

For more information about the Fisher House and how to donate, go to www.fisherhouse.org.