Generosity Meets Glamor at the Alzheimer’s Association Rita Hayworth Gala

By Emma Muhleman 

Rita Hayworth Gala Steering Committee Photo

On Saturday, May 11, more than 350 people came together to support and raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association’s care and research programs. The Chicago Rita Hayworth Gala raised nearly $900,000 for the cause very close to the founder Princess Yasmin Aga Khan’s heart. 

Princess Yasmin Aga Khan

Jim & Susan Draddy (Hinsdale), Fifi & Ron Levin (Highland Park)

Joan & Paul Rubschlager (Chicago), Maria Carrillo & Miguel Carrillo (Chicago)

Princess Yasmin’s Aga Khan’s mother, Rita Hayworth, was an American actress, dancer and producer who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 1980. To honor her mother, she created the Rita Hayworth Galas to raise money for the care of Alzheimer’s patients and fund research programs to pave the way for a hopeful future without Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

Michael &. Phoebe (Stone) Nitekman (Northfield), Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, Jim Stone (Winnetka)

John Good (Chicago), Katie Albee (Chicago), Ruthie Helmer (Kenilworth), Patrick Cannon (Chicago)

Laura Sheehan, Linda Leonberger (Chicago), Kate Bartlett, Tara Gibney (Chicago)

Set in the Old Chicago Post Office and drenched in Hollywood glamor, this year’s gala was hosted by Princess Aga Khan and committee chairs Lori and Craig Stern. The Chicago Bulls’ assistant coach, John Bryant, was the MC of the night. 

Lori & Craig Stern (Chicago), Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, John Bryant (Emcee & Chicago Bulls)

Lori & Craig Stern (Chicago)

John Bryant (MC+ Chicago Bulls)

Charles Ifergan (Chicago), Anat & Amos Madanes (Chicago), Susan Ifergan (Chicago)

Highlights of the evening included a cocktail reception, dinner, and a record-breaking live auction. The entertainment of the evening was provided by The Party Faithful who kept the dance floor lively. The Alzheimer’s Association took time to recognize and honor Hinsdale residents, Susan and Jim Draddy, for their dedication to the cause. The pair received the prestigious Philanthropy Award for their unwavering support of 15 years to the association. 

Paddle Raising

Monte & Lisa Henige (Hinsdale), Peggy Fuechtman (Hinsdale), James and Kim Mercurio (Hinsdale)

As Susan and Jim Draddy were being presented their award, each member of the Draddy family took to the mic to share their personal experiences with the impact of Alzheimer’s Disease and their reflections on why supporting the cause is so vital to them. 

Draddy children (Hinsdale)

Phoebe Nitekman (Northfield), Jim & Susan Draddy (Hinsdale)

“Many of you have experiences similar to ours,” said Jim Draddy. “Early on you recognized how critical funding is to broaden the effort to find a cure. Your support and contributions make possible the extensive and wide-ranging types of research that have brought us to this critical junction.”

 James & Deborah Hultquist (Hinsdale), Lisa & Monte Henige (Hinsdale), Gina & Steve Brescia (Hinsdale), Lee & Heather Shalgos (Hinsdale), Edward & Kirsten Kapelinski (Hinsdale)

Heather Shalgos (Hinsdale), Kirsten Kapelinski (Hinsdale), Gina Brescia (Hinsdale)

Maria C. Carrillo, Ph.D., Alzheimer’s Association chief science officer and medical affairs lead, shared an exciting and hopeful update at the event on the state of Alzheimer’s treatment and the impact the work of the Alzheimer’s Association has had. 

Dr. Maria Carrillo (Alzheimer’s Association chief science officer and medical affairs lead)

Greg Leonberger (Chicago), Tara Gibney (Chicago), Linda Leonberger (Chicago)

Since the inception of the Rita Hayworth Galas 40 years ago in New York City, the multi-city events have generated over $87 million for the Alzheimer’s Association mission and raised awareness for a condition that effects over 6 million Americans and over 11 million family members and caregivers. In Illinois alone, there are over 230,000 people with Alzheimer’s and over 312,000 people providing unpaid care to a loved one battling the disease. 

For more information or to make donations, visit Photos are courtesy of Purple Photo Group- Alzheimer’s Association.  

Alicia Nohe-Dirk, Monica Dirk (Chicago)

Chris & Peggy James (Hinsdale), James & Kim Mercurio (Hinsdale)

George & Bonnie Ribet (Chicago)

Theresa DeMaria (Evanston), Cathleen Healy (Chicago)