On Oscar Night, Sunday, February 26, 2012, Autism Speaks hosted An Evening with the Stars, a red carpet spectacular with the glamorous backdrop of the 84th Annual Academy Awards® broadcast, at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, 9300 Bryn Mawr Avenue in Rosemont, Illinois.
An Evening with the Starsbrought the glitz and glamour of Hollywood to the Windy City, featuring red carpet arrivals, pre-show interviews broadcast live on the big screens and live and silent auctions with prizes ranging from dinner-theater packages to all-expense paid trips to Hollywood and New York City.
Guests were treated to a very special multi-media segment featuring milestones and accomplishments of individuals on the autism spectrum, with musical accompaniment provided by Chicago recording artist Andrew Salgado and Grammy Award winner, Jim Peterik. Salgado and Peterik, who is best known for his work with the band, Survivor, and Ides of March, have been long-time supporters of Autism Speaks.
Steven Insoft, Autism Speaks’ Chicagoland Chapter board member and chief financial officer of Aviv REiT, served as Executive Producer of this year’s event. Insoft dedicates his involvement to his son, “For me, this is a very personal cause. My involvement is for my son and for my family, as well as for the tens of thousands of other Chicago area adults, children, families and caregivers who struggle with autism.” Through the generous support of Aviv REIT, the Insoft Family, the Schlaack Family, FirstMerit Bank, Cathedral Rock, Bulley & Andrews, Maplewood Senior Living, the Village of Rosemont and others, the event welcomed more than 300 guests, raising over $150,000 to support Autism Speaks.
This post is by Sarah Hamilton
After the Chicago Walk Now for Autism Speaks, our family and friends were so revved up to do something more that we came up with the idea to raise autism awareness in our local community – South Elgin, Ill. – and decided to walk in the 4th of July parade. As we brainstormed, with the help of Autism Speaks, we came up with the idea for the float. We liked the big puzzle pieces that were at the walk and thought that would be perfect for a float. We all wore our “Cole’s Crew” shirts to the parade because this year, our t-shirts just happened to feature red and blue (very patriotic!).
The night before the parade we started working on the float and put the finishing touches on it as we were lined up to start the parade. Everyone was so excited! My son Cole, who is autistic and who I thought wouldn’t like this kind of thing, was really into it! He liked riding in the back of the truck and though he didn’t say anything during the parade, later that day he told me he had fun!
During the parade, we heard many people commenting, “Thank you for doing this” or “my cousin/sister/brother, etc. is autistic” or “it is so good to see something like this”. When our float was being announced during the parade, many people stood up for us and clapped or cheered (although many were waving and cheering along the route as well). Some people looked like they were wondering what our float was about, and I hope those are the people who went home and looked up Autism Speaks!
We ran out of goodies to give out to the crowds lining the street and we were all tired, but it was such a great day and such a great way to raise awareness! After the parade we got many compliments on the float – some people even said it was the best in the whole parade. All the family and friends that walked with us have already posed the question of doing this again next year…………
Definitely a success!
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.