In late December, we were approached by Aspire to assist their reduced advancement team with their annual fundraising event (The Big City Night Gala) happening just over a month later in early February. They needed some experienced hands and minds to help bring this exciting event to life, and we jumped right into action.
We are so thankful that we got in under the wire before group gatherings were restricted, and were able to assist with this fun and successful event. Aspire is a nonprofit leader in comprehensive services for children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families, and this event netted over $307,000 from a record-breaking 513 attendees.
The theme was “Come Together” and come together we did at the Radisson Blu Aqua. Thanks to a little help from our friends, the event raised over $307,000 (from a record-breaking 513 attendees) to help Aspire’s mission.
Five Grain started the day off early, arriving to the Radisson at 6:30 am along with the eager and energetic team from Aspire! Setup was already in the works when we arrived. We cannot thank the incredible staff at the Radisson for all their hard work throughout the day, especially Joy, Sonia, Frank, and Bernard, who were on top of our every need.
PSAV arrived shortly after to facilitate in-house AV equipment and Windy City Music helped with all the other AV needs throughout the day–their teams worked together seamlessly and everything turned out perfectly.
Around 8 am 26 volunteers showed up (and showed out!) to help set up name tags, assist with auction and check-in setup. We’ve truly never seen such a robust and coordinated volunteer effort from any other organization. CloudCover set up the crucial computer equipment for easy access to check in when guests arrived and to organize auction pickup.
More volunteers came and went throughout the day organizing the great ballroom tables with print pieces from NPN 360 and United Fulfillment. Everyone chipped in to assemble the eclectic Beatles-inspired centerpieces crafted by Polly’s Petals and Particulars. Walgreens was the presenting sponsor for the entire event and we’d like to extend a little extra love for all their help.
The day seemed to fly by; before we knew it, the doors were open and the gala was well underway. The teen band Urgent Care, who connect people and charities through music, helped set things off in the auction room by playing some serious jams. In one year, they’ve raised over $50,000 for Chicago-based charities. We have no doubt that these “kids” will flourish in the next couple years; Chicago music scene, watch out!
After cocktail hour and check in were complete, guests were asked to sit down for dinner and a presentation by Aspire’s team. Our emcee for the night was NBC5 Chicago‘s very own Lisa Parker! The most touching parts of the evening were the videos produced by Baby Pomegranate Productions which featured program participants highlighting how much the services from Aspire have meant to them.. Special thanks to ACS Captions for interpreting the whole presentation in sign language.
After the quick program, Sayre & Jones Auctioneers, Ltd. picked up the pace with an incredibly lively auction where guests were encouraged to participate in live auction items.
We finished off the night with an amazing photobooth provided by Big Hugs Photo Booth. The after party featured the greatest Beatles Tribute Band in the country, American English. Dessert and late night snacks were served and the night ended with a special set from DJ Sasha Savic’s DJ Frankie.
What an incredible evening. We’d like to thank all of the amazing people who work hard for Aspire’s invigorating mission of helping individuals with disabilities and their families. We can’t wait to see what you do next!
All photos are credited to Nolasco Giovanni and Nisa Alicea