The third annual Autism Speaks Heroes Ball was held Friday, November 12, 2010 at Venue One in Chicago. The event welcomed more than 500 guests and has raised nearly $130,000 for Autism Speaks. The Heroes Ball recognized local autism heroes as the community united to change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders.
The Heroes Ball was once again organized by Autism Speaks’ partner, Legacy Marketing Partners, and was hosted by Chicago comedy all-star Patti Vasquez. Guests enjoyed a premium open bar sponsored by Pernod Ricard USA and Coors/Blue Moon, dinner, as well as entertainment by blues legends Tom Holland & the Shuffle Kings and the Dave Herrero Band. Dee Roscioli, best known for her performances as Elphaba in the Chicago and Broadway productions of the popular musical Wicked, performed a special tribute to this year’s nominated heroes. The evening featured a touching video about autism, a live auction, silent auction, raffle, interactive photo booth and dancing. The crown jewel of the live auction was an overnight stay at a private Michigan estate, and dinner for eight with celebrity chef, Andrew Carmellini.
The highlight of the evening was announcing this year’s Autism Speaks Heroes of the Year. An inspirational group of ten heroes were nominated, and through a close online voting competition, three finalists emerged. Megan Silver, a teacher, was nominated by Melissa Silvers in honor of her work with Melissa’s son. ” To say that Megan goes above and beyond is an understatement,” wrote Melissa in Megan’s nomination. Autism Speaks Chicagoland Chapter board member and founder of the Ride for Autism Speaks, Diane Gedik, was nominated by her friend Donna Sheridan. Donna wrote, “Diane Gedik is a personal hero to me and a hero to many more whose lives she has touched with her passion and dedication to raising awareness for those touched by autism.” And, this year’s Hero of the Year, Martha Fregoso, was nominated by her friend Veronica Espinoza. In her nomination, Veronica wrote, “Martha has become an advocate for autism since it became a part of her life the day her son Ivan was diagnosed at the age of two. Martha has educated many people as to what this condition is and how we as a society can help.” We are thrilled to recognize these three amazing women—and the many others who are our everyday autism heroes. Meet all of this year’s nominees.
Very special thanks to our partner, Legacy Marketing Partners, and to Vince Parrinello, Amanda Kenner-Turnbull, Lindsey Willey and all our friends at Legacy for all they do to make the Heroes Ball such a stand-out success.