Gala co-chairs: Corinne “Corky” Richman (seated) and Anne Patel at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. | Onasis Delmo photo
BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF
◆ 6:30 p.m. June 1
◆ Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, 221 N. Columbus
◆ (312) 235-8029;
Updated: August 15, 2012 7:59PM
Long before Anne Patel and Corinne “Corky” Richman teamed up to co-chair the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago’s annual summer gala, their husbands had forged a similar partnership: Anne’s husband Homi is the retired chairman and CEO of Hartmarx, where he frequently did business with Corky’s husband Larry, the CEO of the Private Bank.
Though the wives had seen each other socially at fund-raisers over the years, they weren’t glued at the hip until they were appointed to plan the BGCC’s most important event of the year. And what a partnership it’s been: The event on June 1 will attract nearly 600 attendees and raise more than $1 million, a big chunk of the BGCC’s annual $10 million operating budget.
“It’s the largest-grossing fund-raiser of the year, and it plays a vital role in supporting the organization,” says Patel, a longtime member of the woman’s board. The event’s proceeds will help fund 16 Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the city, which provide after-school programs for nearly 10,000 school-aged students.
Richman became more connected to the cause after attending the organization’s Youth of the Year Awards at Navy Pier in March. “Several kids were chosen to speak, and one of the kids said that the only place they felt safe in their whole day was being in the Boys & Girls Club after school,” says Richman, a former elementary school teacher. “That really hit me.”
This year’s Youth of the Year winner — Nora Martinez, a 17-year-old member of the Gen. Robert E. Wood Boys & Girls Club — will accept a $5,000 scholarship and speak about how her involvement in the Keystone Club, a teen group focused on service and leadership, influenced her decision to study sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago this fall.
Themed the Aqua Ball, the black-tie gala is one of the first major social events to be held at the new Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. Capitalizing on the hotel’s unique ballroom — which has floor-to-ceiling windows with city views on two sides — the co-chairs worked with Ronsley Special Events to craft decor elements that include sculptural, Art Deco floral centerpieces complemented by candlelight and two running “water walls.”
“We think that people will really be amazed as the ballroom doors are opened,” says Patel. Adds Richman: “It’ll be a big surprise when people see the atmosphere we’ve created.”
A silent auction will offer dozens of one-of-a-kind experiences, such as a trip to Paris Fashion Week in July 2013 that includes tickets to six runway shows. And a “Fund the Future” campaign will offer guests options to contribute to specific programs, such as a $600 donation to provide 240 healthy meals, or $2,500 to allow 25 club members to participate in College Bound.
“I get great satisfaction in knowing that the dollars raised will go toward providing an enriching environment,” says Patel. “It doesn’t only last a year or two, but it lasts a lifetime for these children.”
The Chicago Sun-Times is the media sponsor of this event.