BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
What began many years ago as the Rolls Royce Raffle held in a showroom and later became the first Chicago benefit to top $1 million, has transformed into the largest event anywhere and of any type for the international Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
Raising a total of almost $5.5 million, the One Dream Gala’s live auction featured not a luxury car, as it did in the beginning, but included two sing-along opportunities with Canadian alt-rockers Barenaked Ladies, who performed that night for the 2,000 guests there to support JDRF’s mission to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent, and treat type 1 diabetes and its complications. The sing-alongs, which raised $62,000, were among the 400 auction items.
David and Bridget Van Eekeren, who co-chaired the Gala, made a surprise $100,000 match donation during the Fund a Cure portion of the evening, raising a total of $326,000 through their efforts.
David, who heads Land O’ Frost, commented:
“JDRF is a smart organization. It’s efficient, strategic, and driven by the community that supports it. I appreciate innovation. I appreciate aggressive, focused determination. And I appreciate JDRF for being the organization that will find a cure for type 1 diabetes.
“It’s a disease that has a deeply personal connection to my own family and over the past 10 years, our support has extended throughout our entire company. We’re proud to be on the front lines with them to help raise awareness and funds that will allow for improved treatment and, ultimately, a cure.”
Michael and Sarah Alter joined David and Carrie Carlson as Fund A Cure co-chairs, which raised $3.4 million. Glen Tullman led the Gala as fundraising chair. Larry D. Richman served as the 2018 honorary corporate chair. The Hoffmann family—Geoff, Megan, Henry, Ben, George, and Teddy—shared their family’s story as the Fund a Cure family.
In the mid-1970s, when the gala first began, volunteer powerhouses like Eileen Gelick, Susan Mardell, and Shelly Zucker almost single handedly laid the foundation for the event, often driving all over the city to pick up produce, meats, desserts, and other fare for the buffet, donated by restaurants and wholesalers, along with convincing a car dealership to donate a Rolls Royce, and convincing all their friends to attend. All parents of children with type 1 diabetes, their dedication stands today as an extraordinary example of what a handful of committed volunteers can accomplish. For the 2018 One Dream Gala, over 400 volunteers were enlisted.
Mimi K. Crabtree, Executive Director of JDRF Illinois, summed up the evening, saying, “Not only is it an absolutely fantastic event, it has a history of success, raising the bar on fundraising galas throughout Chicago and, quite frankly, the country.”
The leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes research, JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners and is the only organization with the scientific resources, regulatory influence, and a working plan to better treat, prevent, and eventually cure T1D. As the largest charitable supporter of T1D research, JDRF has invested more than $2 billion in research funding since their inception.
For more information, visit jdrf.org.