BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
With singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles in concert and 250 extraordinary auction items, the Women’s Board of the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation celebrated its 50th auction anniversary by raising $2.5 million.
Cynthia Chereskin and Barbara Sessions chaired the gala at the Four Seasons Hotel, attended by almost 600 guests. Women’s Board President, Kristi Nuelle, shared a little history:
“We believe that this is the oldest charity auction in the city. The first UCCRF Grand Auction was held in 1966 at the Pick Congress. Believe it or not, at that event there were over 250 live auction items. It must have been a very long night!
“Most of our items are silent auction, but the live auction had dazzlers such as a Ralph Lauren custom alligator Ricky bag, a Verdura Criss Cross Cuff in 18k gold, a six-person private Kitchen Table dinner at Alinea, and a cazenove+loyd luxury getaway.”
Nuelle added, “We are so proud of our founders for their vision and determination to kick off this event.”
The highlight of the evening was the 40-minute performance by Grammy and Tony nominee Sara Bareilles, whose songs included “Love Song” and “Gravity.” Kristi noted:
“Probably the most impactful aspect of her performance was her touching dedication of the song ‘Brave,’ honoring one of our most beloved board members, Pam McGaan, whom we lost this past March to cancer. Sara referenced letters she had received from a few of our board members and Pam’s daughter Molly about what a special person Pam was. We were extremely lucky to have a very special member of our board underwrite Sara’s performance.”
Ending the evening on another high note was the astonishing $2.5 million brought in by the gala, elating board members who have allocated nearly $17 million for innovative research at the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center. Kristi added:
“We set a lofty goal and we exceeded it! The funds we raise act as much-needed seed funding for some of the most cutting edge research into cancer being done anywhere in the world. The funds we deliver are used for initial discoveries that can be leveraged for much larger NIH grants. Knowing this, it is easy to be dedicated and diligent about our work. We have all be touched by cancer in some way and believe in the amazing progress being made daily at the U of C.”
The gala paid special tribute to Ogilvy & Mather, who received the Partners in Discovery Award for their ongoing generosity and commitment to the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center.