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Chris Dodd's sledding and Peggy Cooper Cafritz's fundraising make the most of D.C. snow days

Area residents sled on the lawn of the Capitol Building on Monday afternoon. (Marvin Joseph /The Washington Post)

While Washington's great Dig Out continues, a couple of VIPs made lemonade out of lemons -- or should we say snow angels out of snow?

Peggy Cooper Cafritz hit pay dirt by staying inside. The arts patron, who lost her D.C. home to a devastating fire last summer, took a break from dealing with insurance adjusters to focus on the Duke Ellington School of the Arts fundraiser. The Feb. 25 event was way behind schedule; final confirmation of a pro-bono Stevie Wonder appearance came just two weeks ago. Cafritz, who co-founded the school, had planned a blitz of in-person appeals to donors -- until the snow shut the city down last week.

"We were behind the eight ball and the snowball," she told us Tuesday.

Which turned out to be the best thing that could have happened: Cafritz conscripted her son and his three young friends to her Water Street condo, where they camped out and starting calling every possible school supporter. Most were stuck at home and couldn't duck her appeals: Cafritz said she raised about $200,000 in just four days.

Meanwhile, Sen. Chris Dodd has become the most popular politician in D.C. by hitting the slopes of Capitol Hill.

After December's huge blizzard, a few enterprising locals beelined to the sloping West Lawn of the Capitol: a primo sledding site, although officially restricted since 9/11. The winter fun lasted just one day when rules kicked back in and sledders were frozen out.

Enter Dodd, who was recognized -- and still turned away -- last Thursday when he tried to sled with his two young daughters. The Connecticut Democrat persuaded the sergeant-at-arms to lift the ban for the holiday weekend, and his wife, Jackie Clegg, shared the good news with her Capitol Hill neighbors via the Moms on the Hill Internet discussion group.

Now Tom Foreman, a correspondent for CNN's "AC360," is calling Dodd's act something that "could go a good ways toward restoring voter confidence in the ability of government to act sane and reasonable," he wrote Monday in an open letter to President Obama. "Seriously, don't give me a call today; give one to Dodd, and tell him 'Nice job on the sled thing.'"

By The Reliable Source  |  February 17, 2010; 1:04 AM ET
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Dear Senator Dodd-
You have single handedly made this the most memorable winter. Getting a lot of snow is one thing, but being able to walk with my 3 year old (who has a very limited distance maximum) to the Capitol (the wonderful symbol of our great city and neighborhood) and being able to SLED has just made it perfect.

I regret that you will be retiring- as how will we sled without you? If you have any gumption to take on this issue for those of us who lack real representation in Congress, and make sledding permanently allowed- we’d be forever grateful! As what could be a greater symbol of our open, inclusive, family values centered, and democratic government?

Thank you Senator Dodd. We hope that you continue to live on the Hill no matter what future role you pursue!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Kirsten & 3 year old Sebastian (soon to be 4)

Posted by: ackerstreet | February 17, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

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