Spark! AbilityLab Gala

Judy Bross Photo







Talk about being where everything happens!

At the recent Spark! Shirley Ryan AbilityLab annual signature celebration, the 450 spellbound guests viewed on surround screens at the Four Seasons Hotel how the world-class research hospital succeeds in making science-driven breakthroughs in human ability. The ballroom was transformed into an immersive environment that put guests in the middle of the patient experience while highlighting the hospital’s research, clinical care, and the incredible patient stories that have resulted.


Menecis Garriga and Brody Roybal.


Dr. Joanne Smith with Pat and Shirley Ryan.

Spark! generated $3.3 million in support of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, the largest amount ever raised at one of the hospital’s annual galas. Lori and Jude Reyes and Shirley and Pat Ryan were the evening’s co-chairs.

As guests dined, animation played on screens that surrounded the room—a full 360 degrees—showing figures and equations pulled from their scientists’ white boards, computers, patents, and minds! A captivating video also played, providing a birds-eye view into the AbilityLab model of care and research breakthroughs occurring daily in the cutting edge center, stunning with its soaring ceilings and uplifting orange color statements.

Eva Saseen, an 18-year-old patient, was featured live, along with her mother and interdisciplinary care team. Saseen sustained a traumatic brain injury following a car accident last year. President and CEO Dr. Joanne Smith and Chief Medical Officer Dr. James Sliwa led the discussion about Saseen’s journey and how best-in-class care and science helped to aid her recovery.


Singer-songwriter Brendan James performs.

Singer-songwriter Brendan James closed the evening with a moving performance of “Nothing for Granted,” his mega-hit encouraging people not to miss a moment in appreciating life, including the triumphs that occur, with surely a nod to the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and its important work.


Daniel and Mary Dolan with King Harris.


Peter and Carol Goldman.


Lee and Kitty Freidheim with Leslie and Tom Kennedy.


Lester and Renée Crown.


Ron Katz, Cheryl Coleman, Myra Reilly, and John Reilly.


Morris Silverman, Jonathan Jonas, Lori Komisar, and David Jonas.


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