JDRF: Big Dreams Come True







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.


Guests danced and celebrated to the music of the Barenaked Ladies. Photo by Benjamin Breth.


Gala guests were in for a very exciting live auction, including a signed guitar and onstage sing-a-long with the Barenaked Ladies. Photo by David Blachman.


Announcing this year’s record-breaking fundraising of $5.4 million. Photo by Benjamin Breth.

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 and Bridget Van Eekeren. Photo by David Blachman.

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.”


John Garcia of ABC7 News interviews David and Bridget Van Eekeren. Photo by Benjamin Breth.


The entire Alter family came out to enjoy and celebrate in the evening’s success! Michael and Sarah Alter served as this year’s Fund A Cure co-chairs. Photo by David Blachman.

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.


Amy Aldridge, Glen Tullman, and Ken Aldridge. Photo by David Blachman.


Larry Richman, Honorary Corporate Chair. Photo by David Blachman.


Megan Hoffmann took to the stage to speak about her son Henry and his experience living with type 1 diabetes. Photo by David Blachman.


The Hoffmann 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.


Gala emcees, NBC5’s Rob Stafford and Allison Rosati. Photo by Benjamin Breth.


JDRF ambassadors are children and young adults living with T1D who help spread JDRF’s mission. This family of ambassadors helped sell raffle tickets and mystery balloons at the One Dream Gala. Photo by David Blachman.


JDRF Illinois Board member Tom Howe with Board member Joe Lacher and his wife, Marisue. Photo by Benjamin Breth.


Cook Country Board President Toni Preckwinkle, JDRF Illinois Executive Director Mimi Crabtree, and JDRF Illinois Board President Mike Roche and his wife, Linda. Photo by Benjamin Breth.

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.