La Rabida Gala: Celebrating a World’s Fair Watchtower







Serving Chicago since 1896, La Rabida Children’s Hospital recently raised more than $725,000 at their 32nd Awards Gala attended by more than 450 guests at the Ritz-Carlton. Funds raised will maintain and improve the quality of life for its patients with complex conditions, disabilities, and chronic illness regardless of ability to pay.

The hospital, which stands like a watchtower on the lake, has a fascinating and little known history. In the late 1800s, as Chicago prepared for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, the government of Spain constructed its exhibition hall on Lake Michigan at Jackson Harbor. The hall was a replica of the La Rabida Monastery in Andalucía, Spain, the site where Columbus embarked on his oceanic voyage.

The name comes from the building the monastery replaced: an Arabic watchtower. After the exposition, Spain gifted the city the building for use as a fresh air sanitarium for sick children, and the country was involved in the hospital’s early years. In the late 1920s, funds were raised to build a new building, which incorporated a bit of the Moorish style.


Ravi Baichwal.


Brenda Wolf.

Ravi Baichwal of ABC 7 Chicago served as the evening’s emcee. La Rabida CEO Brenda Wolf led the charge in honoring two of the hospital’s  most enthusiastic supporters: Richard Burridge, Sr., Chairman Emeritus of RMB Capital, received the Lifetime of Service award and Christine O’Reilly-Riordan, Vice President of Community Relations/Executive Director of Chicago White Sox Charities, was given the Community Support award. Both honorees have demonstrated unwavering support of La Rabida’s mission.


Mr. and Mrs.Richard Burridge, Sr.


Christine O’Reilly-Riordan receives her award.

The 2018 gala’s host sponsors include Berglund Construction; Chicago Equity Partners; Kutchins, Robbins & Diamond, Ltd.; Magellan Corporation, Dan and Susan Real, and RMB Capital.


Hopeful centerpiece.

La Rabida Children’s Hospital is a leader in delivering the best specialized care and services to its patients and their families. Through hands on education, advocacy and specialty care, La Rabida aims to support and encourage families, helping them navigate their lives beyond its walls.

For more information, visit


Photo credit: Robert Carl