Flight Gala: Celebrating Courageous Campers





Over 400 guests at the Four Seasons Hotel recently toasted the Camp One Step by Children’s Oncology Services, begun in 1978. The fourth annual Flight gala raised more than $300,000, a record-breaking number, for the organization that sends almost 450 children with cancer to camp programs, such as the nonprofit’s popular summer camp in Lake Geneva and 10 other camp programs. With many of its programs offered at no cost to the families, the camp is supported through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations, as well as a variety of volunteers, including medical staff from local hospitals such as Lurie Children’s, Comer Children’s, and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

Emceed by Camp One Step Board member and WSCR radio host, Dan Bernstein, the live auction featured a painting by Brendan Cooney depicting campers hands held together with a symbolic camp bracelet that brought bidders to their feet.


Art of Camp Bracelets.


Camper and keynote speaker, Lulu Sammarco.

Ten-year-old camper Lucia Sammarco, who described her time at Camp One Step, drew applause—and a chorus of “Happy Birthday.”

Big Bikes Helping Little Tykes received the Richard Schwebel award, created in 2014 in memory of the philanthropist and father of Jeffrey Schwebel, a childhood cancer survivor and former One Step camper and counselor, who died in 2001. Jeff’s family created the Jeffrey Schwebel Foundation 16 years ago and has raised over $500,000 through a yearly golf outing and other donations for Camp One Step.


Camp One Step.


The Schwebel Family.

Big Bikes Helping Little Tykes leads a fleet of motorcycles and cars to camp every year from Duke’s Beef in Bridgeview to camp for visits with the kids, who love their bikes. They have raised over $400,000 in the past 15 years for the camp, attended by children age 7 to 19 who are battling cancer or leukemia.

Also honored were the Distillery Project and Jokes4Miles, both having donated their time and services to Camp One Step by Children’s Oncology Services.


Len Austrevich accepts the Hospira Foundation Award on behalf of Jokes4Miles.

The evening featured French-inspired cuisine and décor, and a French wine bar in keeping with the Evening in Paris theme. The Flight committee, which highlights a different country each year, included Mary Cortopassi, Chris Cortopassi, Donna DeSimone, Nick DeSimone, Tina DeSimone, Sam DeSimone, Celeste Giannini, Danielle Goldman, Linda Graves, Barb Guzzardi, Joseph Guzzardi, Rich Guzzardi, Jeff Infusino, Joseph Infusino, Sue Infusino, Lauren Kavanaugh, Lauren Kunkel, Megan Milligan, Doug Prafke, Nikki Prafke, and Julie Wilson.

Scott Schwebel, in representing the Jeffrey Schwebel Foundation, could be speaking for all those supporting the Flight benefit when he remarked, “We enjoy celebrating Jeff’s memory through the smiles on the faces of the campers every year as they forget about what they are battling and delight in summer camp fun.”


Connor Kuhn, Nina Laski, Richard Roeper, and Lynn Hollins.


Terrell and Danielle Shell.


Elizabeth Lopez, Ashley Wellman, Jennifer Vigon, and Angela Hill.


Pat Tomasulo and Erik Bjella.


Grace Tarpey and Erica Sleck.


Danny and Natalia Martinez.


John and Brenna Nichols, Susie and Chris Eilers, and Board Chairwoman Janel Huston.


Lindsay Goldman and Natalie Marks.


Bill Humphrey, Marjorie Schwebel, Scott Schwebel, and Kevin O’Meara.

Photo credit: Megan Floyd, LOL Photography