Ronald McDonald House Gala: A Red-Hot Ticket






The invitation to the One Step Closer Gala supporting Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana (RMHC-CNI), read: “revel in red and sport your favorite red-shaded footwear from stilettos to sneakers, then build an ensemble from there”.  From neckties, to evening clutches to glorious garb, the choices rivaled Ronald’s red hair, and the evening brimmed with red-hot loyalty for this monumental institution supporting critically ill children.  More than 700 guests celebrated the Gala at The Geraghty, presented by HAVI and Wintrust.


Ceplak Kristen & Ozan, Kevin & Sister – Chicago

Lott, Derrick & Christine – Frankfort

 Rob Stafford of Chicago’s NBC5 sported a red tie and served as the evening’s emcee. Holly Buckendahl, RMHC-CNI’s Chief Executive Officer shared remarks on RMHC-CNI’s impact on families, thanking guests for their generosity and continued support through the Ronald McDonald House®, Ronald McDonald Family Room® and Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® programs.

© 2019 Nicee Martin Photo & Design |

 Holly commented:

“Our gala is an important fundraising event that helps provide the care and resources needed for countless families with sick children around Chicagoland, Northwest Indiana and beyond. For a second year in a row, we raised over $1 million. Every dollar will go towards programs and services that enable families to get better together, ensuring that RMHC-CNI continues to be a beacon of hope and support for families with sick children.”



 The mission of RMHC-CNI is to care for families of children with complex medical needs by providing comfort, compassion and a sense of community. Each night, they keep 158 families close to the care and resources they need through five area Ronald McDonald Houses® and three Ronald McDonald Family Rooms®. Allowing families to stay close to their child in the hospital supports the health and well-being of the child, and saves families more than $9 million

Smyth, Russ 1 – Lemont

Melanie Ley, Kevin Millsap, Kim Zbilski – Willowbrook

  Following a live auction featuring VIP encounters with Chicago sports teams and destination delights, dancing, and photo station fun, guests paused for late-night McDonald’ cheeseburgers.


Butkus, Mike & Kristi and Butkus, Michael & Kelly – RMHC Family

CJ Cohen, Clarisse Bower, Joe Endress, Erin Smith, Ryan Smith Vernon Hills

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Photos by Nicee Martin Photography & Design