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Humanitarian honorees

Humanitarian Award winner Neil Bluhm enjoys receptiwith his grandchildren. | RGould Studios photos

Humanitarian Award winner Neil Bluhm enjoys the reception with his grandchildren. | Ron Gould Studios photos

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Updated: April 14, 2012 8:08AM

The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center’s Board of Trustees, along with more than 1,800 supporters, gathered last week at the Hyatt Regency, 151 E. Wacker, for the 2012 Humanitarian Awards Dinner featuring former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates as keynote speaker.

Many of Chicago’s most influential corporate leaders, politicos and philanthropists came together to fete four of their most distinguished cohorts while somberly remembering the sacrifices of those who came before them. Award recipients included Neil G. Bluhm, president, JMB Realty Corp.; Don Thompson, president and COO, McDonald’s Corp.; Rick Waddell, chairman and CEO, Northern Trust, and Michael J. Rubinstein for his service to the three-year-old Skokie museum.

Other notable names spotted among the well-connected crowd included tireless supporters JB and MK Pritzker, Sam Harris, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Secretary of State Jesse White and Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen. Emanuel addressed the room as guests began dinner, stating, “All of us have a role to play to teach acceptance and tolerance, and when we do, we are all stronger for it.”

Before the awards were doled out, museum president Fritzie Fritzshall asked for the Holocaust survivors present to stand. One by one, each of the resilient individuals stood to receive thunderous applause, many becoming teary from the show of solidarity. Later, during his address, Gates again recognized the sacrifices made by those in the Holocaust and thanked the survivors for helping the world to “never forget.”

Tickets began at $350; $2.2 million was raised for the museum and its educational initiatives.

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