Professional Young Gays Inc. (P.Y.G.) celebrated its one year anniversary to support Equality Illinois (EQIL) at one of our supporter's homes in the John Hancock Residencies. Robert Ford-Reynolds was so gracious to open up his beautiful home on the 91st floor of the Hancock to the P.Y.G. and EQIL network. A host committee of socially active young professionals welcomed guests to an evening of networking and celebration. I must thank Kevin Mork of EQIL, Laruen Carter of Lstop.org, Ronnie Chatterjee, and Will Rye for all their hard work for the host committee. EQIL's CEO Bernard Cherkasov delivered a thoughtful and timely speech that really spoke to the current legal matters of the LGBT community. With P.Y.G.'s one year anniversary and the passing of civil unions, there was a lot to celebrate. Guests also walked away with exclusive raffle prizes that included a dinner for two at Theory Chicago on Hubbard Street, two complimentary tickets to any show or concert at the Horseshoe Casino, and a copy of Bennett Singer's Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayward Rustin, a touching documentary about an overlooked gay civil rights leader. However, the real star of the event was Robert's view! Beautiful view of the city + St. Germain cocktails = EPIC evening. A portion of the proceeds from the evening went to benefit EQIL.
I'm so proud of my dad, Clint, on scoring such an awesome music gig. The Cliff Dwellers hosted an evening of music, laughs, and other live performances in honor of Roger Ebert at its private club on Michigan Ave. Master of Ceremonies Eve Moran had a very warm, motherly approach to introducing each performer, which set the inviting tone of the evening. My dad performed two songs on the piano for guests and I'm pretty sure I saw thumbs up from Roger Ebert himself after his performance! Even with all his health set-backs, Roger seemed to be in great spirits giving thumbs up to performers and waving and greeting anyone who approached him. In particular, Rachel Martindale cited one of Roger's famous reviews on the film Dances with Wolves. Martindale shared such an eloquent deliverance of Roger's review and most definitely did the historical review justice. Performers included Braian A. Bernardroni, Dottie Bee, Susan Werner, Jack Zimmerman, Clint Chappell, William Bowe, Nicholas Tonozzi, Suzanna Post, Yaniz Dinur, Alexandra Tanico, Valarie Yokley, Jean Yokley, George Howe, Laura Freeman, Gunduz Dagdelen, Larry Lund, and Robert Martindale.
I use to have this motto that you've been to one charity cocktail party, you've been to them all, but people keep on surprising me. San Diego Chargers player Larry English welcomed potential donors, supporters, media, and guests to a private launch party for his new nonprofit, LEAD Foundation at Chicago Firehouse. Interestingly enough, the foundation was the brainchild of his mother Susan English. I just love a good mother-son team! The LEAD Foundation, which stands for Leading Education to Athletes for Their Dreams, has a mission to create opportunities that broaden the mindset of youth athletes by empowering them with advanced programming in education, professional development and mentoring. LEAD prides itself on prepping youth athletes for goals on and off the field according to English. Larry invited guests to an inside look of the financial challenges he faced when he was younger and on the field. "I can relate to the youth we target because I use to be one of them," said English – giving back truly came full circle on this one.
Now you know my post would not be complete without a big girl rant. Chefs and the City to benefit Vital Bridges gave me and the big girl inside me what we both needed. Influentials, budding and established philanthropists, and big girls like myself all gathered at the Ritz Carlton for the signature foodie event. Featuring over thirty stations of upscale delights from the city's top chefs, guests enjoyed custom made light bites, signature cocktails, and a Mark Shale fashion show presented by Maria Pinto. I prided myself on making a stop to each station but quite honestly had to reframe from asking each top chef for an entrée portion. And although I did appreciate each chef's creation, trust me I did, my personal fave was Ryan Pitt's, RL executive chef, mini hamburger. Apparently, I wasn't alone on this one because Pitt's station had to close early because of its popularity! Some very lucky guests walked away with raffle prizes that included a trip for two to Los Cabos, Mexico with airfare, tickets to the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colorado, tickets to the Chicago Gourmet Festival with an overnight stay and breakfast at the Elysian Hotel, a weekend ride in a Mercides Benz, and gift certificate to 15 restaurants featured at Chefs and the City 2011. All I have to say is to the winning guest who scored the gift certificate to 15 of the featured restaurants, the best days to take me on a date with you are Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. However, I'm flexible. After the event, I made my way over to the exclusive private after party, which featured even more tasty delights. Proceeds from the evening went to benefit Vital Bridges, which provides food and housing services to low-income men, women, and children impacted by HIV and AIDS in Chicago. Honorary Chairs for the event were Candace Jordan, Amanda Puck and Rich Varnes. Additional event chairs included Robert Schuckman and Ryan Ruskin. Ryan Pitts, Executive Chef of RL Restaurant, serves as the event's Chef Chair. Congrats and a Roger Ebert thumbs up to all the participating sponsors, people, and organizations on such a great, delish event!
Until next time, stay cool and if you see me around, let's get a slushy drink!