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Archbishop of Washington returns to Pittsburgh for 50th Medallion Ball

John Altdorfer - St. Lucy's Auxiliary president Mary Lee Gannon (center) with event co-chairs Mary Frances Dean Johnson (left) and Julia Sheridan Gleason (right) during the VIP Reception of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>St. Lucy's Auxiliary president Mary Lee Gannon (center) with event co-chairs Mary Frances Dean Johnson (left) and Julia Sheridan Gleason (right) during the VIP Reception of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - Dame of Malta Helen Hanna Casey with Knight of Malta Tighe and Dame of Malta Katherine Freyvogel during the VIP Reception of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Dame of Malta Helen Hanna Casey with Knight of Malta Tighe and Dame of Malta Katherine Freyvogel during the VIP Reception of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - Archbishop of Washington, D.C., Donald Cardinal Wuerl with Bishop David Zubik during the VIP Reception of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Archbishop of Washington, D.C., Donald Cardinal Wuerl with Bishop David Zubik during the VIP Reception of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - Atalya Sunseri and Mia Damian await the start of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Atalya Sunseri and Mia Damian await the start of the  St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - Imani Herring and Evelyn Immonen await the start of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Imani Herring and Evelyn Immonen await the start of the  St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - Nicole Steliotes and Hannah Ubele await the start of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Nicole Steliotes and Hannah Ubele await the start of the  St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - Constance Raftis awaits the start of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Constance Raftis awaits the start of the  St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - Samuel Mosey, Ryan Deasy and Tom Hammer relax in the ballroom before the start of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Samuel Mosey, Ryan Deasy and Tom Hammer relax in the ballroom before the start of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - Greg Saxon and Colleen Karlovich dance during the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Greg Saxon and Colleen Karlovich dance during the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - Michael Eisner and Levi Maxsua await the start of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Michael Eisner and Levi Maxsua await the start of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - The Clark family, Terri, Danielle and WTAE-TV news anchor Mike, relax in the ballroom before the start of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>The Clark family, Terri, Danielle and WTAE-TV news anchor Mike, relax in the ballroom before the start of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - St. Lucy's Auxiliary president Mary Lee Gannon with archbishop of Washington, D.C., Donald Cardinal Weurl, Bishop David Zubik and event co-chairs Mary Frances Dean Johnson and Julia Sheridan Gleason during the VIP Reception of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>St. Lucy's Auxiliary president Mary Lee Gannon with archbishop of Washington, D.C., Donald Cardinal Weurl, Bishop David Zubik and event co-chairs Mary Frances Dean Johnson and Julia Sheridan Gleason during the VIP Reception of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - Will Hanuschosk and Joelle Swyka, winner of the Ann Freyvogel Hann Scholarship, with her service dog Kiefer during the VIP Reception of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Will Hanuschosk and Joelle Swyka, winner of the Ann Freyvogel Hann Scholarship, with her service dog Kiefer during the VIP Reception of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - Betty McCrory with granddaughter Gillian Giba, daughter Julia Unitas-Giba and granddaughter Alexis Yeckley-Kelly during the VIP Reception of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Betty McCrory with granddaughter Gillian Giba, daughter Julia Unitas-Giba and granddaughter Alexis Yeckley-Kelly during the VIP Reception of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - Betty McCrory with granddaughter Gillian Giba and daughter Julia Unitas-Giba during the VIP Reception of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Betty McCrory with granddaughter Gillian Giba and daughter Julia Unitas-Giba during the VIP Reception of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - Amanda Rulis, center, with parents Christopher, left, and Lisa during the VIP Reception of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Amanda accumulated 800 volunteer service hours, the most of any of the 2013 Medallion Girls. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Amanda Rulis, center, with parents Christopher, left, and Lisa during the VIP Reception of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Amanda accumulated 800 volunteer service hours, the most of any of the 2013 Medallion Girls. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - Katherine and Ty Freyvogel during the VIP Reception of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Mr. Freyvogel's mother and aunt started the ball in 1964. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Katherine and Ty Freyvogel during the VIP Reception of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Mr. Freyvogel's mother and aunt started the ball in 1964. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - Maribeth Donley during the VIP Reception of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Maribeth Donley during the VIP Reception of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - Alan Mazzei and Emma Werling await the start of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Alan Mazzei and Emma Werling await the start of the  St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - Victoria Schmotzer and Benjamin Triulzi await the start of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Victoria Schmotzer and Benjamin Triulzi await the start of the  St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - Jared Aiello, Zach Hutchinson, Colin Bashaw and Noah Kaib await the start of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Jared Aiello, Zach Hutchinson, Colin Bashaw and Noah Kaib await the start of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
John Altdorfer - Tristan Ramage, Greg Saxon, Alex Butler, Eric Bergdoll, Mattew Kreps, David Rojas, Kevin Costello and John Fogarty check their cellphones one last time before the start of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>John Altdorfer</em></div>Tristan Ramage, Greg Saxon, Alex Butler, Eric Bergdoll, Mattew Kreps, David Rojas, Kevin Costello and John Fogarty check their cellphones one last time before the start of the St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nov. 29. 2013.

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“It's a joy to be back,” said Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C. “My first Medallion Ball was 25 years ago. I was so impressed by the young ladies who did all that volunteer work.”

His Eminence's presence during the 50th Medallion Ball at the Wyndham Grand, Downtown, was just one of the impressive aspects of an evening that saw 107 young women being presented with their St. Joan of Arc Medallion by BishopDavid Zubik. The event follows the mission of St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind to encourage a lifetime of volunteer service.

Among these dynamos, Amanda Rulis, daughter of Christopher and Lisa Rulis, received high marks for clocking in a whopping 800 hours of volunteer service — 650 more than what was required of each candidate.

“At first, it was my mom,” Amanda admitted. “But I realized I loved working with all the kids at Children's Hospital. It made me really happy.”

It was not unusual to find present candidates flanked by their mothers, sisters, aunts and grandmothers — all past recipients of the medallion. This practice included St. Lucy's president, Mary Lee Gannon, who has been involved in the Medallion Ball since she was presented in 1977.

Prior to the main event, nerves were slightly frayed backstage: “I'm a little nervous about the waltz and just keeping time and doing all the turns. But the rest, I'm excited about,” said Imani Herring. But the gents serving as escorts seemed to have it all under control.

“I feel like Prince Charming,” said Ryan Deasy, walking with Sarah Rieker on his arm.

Also present on Nov. 29 were Dame of MaltaKatherine Freyvogel and Knight of MaltaTighe Freyvogel, Dame of MaltaHelen Hanna Casey, ball chairwoman Mary Frances Dean Johnson and co-chairwoman Julia Sheridan Gleason, as well as Medallion Girls Danielle Clark, Hannah Newman, Megan Reilly, Rebecca Donahue, Sarah Fieldhammer, Gillian Giba, Joelle Swyka, Kendall Robinson, Lelah McCarthy, Mary Frac, Mia Cuccaro and Keeley Carson.

Kate Benz is the social columnist for Trib Total Media and can be reached at kbenz@tribweb.com or 412-380-8515.

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