BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
Legendary leaders like Aleka Armour, Dot Donnelley, and Joanne Crown set the standard for the Rehabilitation Institute’s Women’s Board, raising miraculous amounts of money through glamorous events.
Aleka famously traded access to the grounds of her Lake Bluff estate in 1978 to Robert Altman to film A Wedding in exchange for a promise from the director of significant funds for the RIC. Two years earlier, the Women’s Board was the beneficiary of an on-site extravaganza at the opening of Water Tower Place.
Robert Redford, at the height of his popularity in 1984, came to town to introduce his film The Natural, with the proceeds of this special screening benefiting the RIC. Just as Redford’s Ray Hobbs may have been a natural when it came to America’s pastime, the innate talents of bringing people together and making things happen was all-apparent in these impressive women.
As the group packs up its photographs of an amazing group of past presidents and prepares to move to the incredible Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, its equally gifted current President Julie Allen can report that $1.5 million was raised at the recent dinner dance to support ground breaking research and cutting edge clinical care.
“The Women’s Board comprises nearly 100 active and passionate women from both the city and the suburbs. Through fundraising and volunteerism, these women have made a strong commitment to supporting RIC’s vision of advancing human ability through science and research, as well as its mission of providing the highest quality patient care and education. Our fundraising and volunteering support many facets of this mission, from its Adaptive Sports and Fitness Program to its Therapeutic Recreation Program.”
Over 500 guests celebrated at Morgan Manufacturing, with an after-party for younger guests at a more modest ticket price. Julie described the location as terrifically versatile.
“Our event chairs, Kathleen Cowie, Clea Van Voorhis, and Liz Warnock did a fabulous job with the décor, making it a virtual indoor garden party. This dinner dance is really a Women’s Board project, but it includes all RIC boards.”
A lawyer who has served in several community leadership roles, Julie reports that the board can’t wait for the move to the new building in March, and the opportunities for patients that it will bring.
“At the Gala, it was an honor to highlight the journey of Cameron Zick, who had experienced spinal cord injury, as one example of how RIC works with patients to advance human ability.”
All photographs courtesy of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.