Aspire’s Big City Night Gala Raised $250,000 for Aspire Kids


Big City Night was a Roaring Success!

More than 550 supporters joined Aspire to celebrate the 17th annual Big City Night Gala “Gatsby: The Roaring 20s,” presented by Walgreens, on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015 at Chicago’s historic Palmer House, and set a record by raising more than $250,000 to benefit kids with disabilities at Aspire.

Emceed by longtime Aspire supporter and NBC5 Chicago reporter Lisa Parker and Aspire Board member Dr. Lisa Thornton, the evening raised money and awareness for Aspire Kids, which provides therapies for kids with developmental disabilities, family support and inclusion consulting for schools. Each year, Aspire helps more than 550 children with disabilities, and their families, across Chicagoland. Aspire’s mission is to create a community where people of all abilities live, learn and grow together.

Aspire’s tagline “Together, We’re Better” was the underlying theme of the evening as guest speakers shared touching and inspiring stories about their journeys with Aspire.

First to take the stage were Linda and Rick Davis, who spoke about their son Tom’s journey to get a job and gain independence. With support from Aspire Careers, Tom was able to find a job he loves and is thriving. Linda, Rick and Tom ended their inspirational story with a standing ovation from the crowd. Watch the Davis family’s video story here.

Later, Patrice Tuohy had the ballroom in tears of joy as she chronicled her journey through the private school system with her daughter Hannah, who has Down syndrome. The first child with Down syndrome to attend her school, the Tuohy family experienced many “firsts,” both positive and negative. In the end, with Patrice’s perseverance, Aspire’s guidance and innovative educators, Hannah flourished, and so did her classmates.

Eva Longoria, American actress, activist and businesswoman, delivered a touching video message, sharing her experience growing up with her sister Elizabeth, who has special needs. Eva said her sister is thriving thanks to organizations like Aspire and expressed her support for Aspire and our mission to create inclusive communities.

The evening continued with the presentation of Aspire’s Advocate for Inclusion Award, which is given to an individual who has made a profound impact in furthering Aspire’s mission. Aspire recognized Reuben Slone, former Aspire Board Chair and SVP of Supply Chain Management at Walgreens, for his outstanding dedication, leadership and generosity. Reuben has played an instrumental role at Aspire, especially in the development of Aspire CareerLink, a one-of-a-kind program that provides adults with the opportunity to receive intensive job training in the fields of retail or warehouse distribution. Watch Reuben’s video tribute here.

During dinner and in between speakers, guests bid on fabulous items and experiences during the silent and live auctions, which included an expenses paid trip to wine country, VIP passes to see the nation’s most famous late night comedians, and an exclusive outing to Chicago’s FBI headquarters.

After dinner, guests headed down the hall to the Red Lacquer Room for a swanky Speakeasy after party where they sipped Speakeasy Steamers, a specialty cocktail of William Wolf pecan bourbon, Aspire CoffeeWorks coffee, vanilla syrup and cinnamon whipped cream. Partygoers had a ball at the Spin-To-Win wheel, taking home a variety of prizes from restaurant and retailer gift cards to Sprinkles Cupcakes to a wagon full of wine, and danced the night away to the carefully curated beats of DJ Lonnie “007” Bonds.

Chaired by national TV Producer and former Aspire Board member Candi Carter, Bill Burris, Jr. of InnerWorkings, and Aspire supporter Amrit Singh, the 17th annual Big City Night was a roaring success with a record-breaking number of attendees and funds raised.

To view all videos from the evening, visit Aspire’s Vimeo page.

Read a recap of Big City Night in the Chicago Tribune here.

To view photos from the evening, visit Aspire Chicago on Facebook.

Thank you

to the generous sponsors and partners that helped make Big City Night possible: Walgreens, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Office Depot OfficeMax, InnerWorkings, The Private Bank, New Chapter Entertainment, The William D. Walsh Family, National Van Lines, BET Networks, Canteen and Eurest, Cleary ten Brink Family Foundation, Complete Cleaning Company, Inc., CPT Network Solutions, Davenport Capital Management, Executive Construction, Inc., Super Electric Construction Company, Gibson Electric & Technology Solutions, The Hill Group, Garvey’s Office Products, MB Financial Bank, Navistar, Cigna-HealthSpring, NBC5 Chicago, Talmer Bank and Trust, Good Heart Work Smart Foundation, McGladrey LLP, Assurance Agency, AAR, Blue Star, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, PwC, Fifth Third Bank, Premier Asset Management LLC, Proviso Public Partnership, Cheeky Chicago, William Wolf Bourbon, Michael Dziedzic, Amanda and Larry Hartley, Paul Rogers and Inland Real Estate Brokerage & Auctions, Inc.

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