Guests attending Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago's Annual "Spirit of Saint Nicholas Ball," on Friday, Dec. 7, in the Hilton Chicago were overjoyed when Msgr. Michael M. Boland, president and CEO of Catholic Charities, halted the festivities and called the past Ball chairs together with this year's chair couple, Molly and James Perry, to the dance floor, and announced a "million dollar moment."
For the first time in the 23- year history of this elegant black-tie signature event, the Spirit of Saint Nicholas Ball raised $1 million net to benefit scores of programs and services for more than 240,000 children in need in Cook and Lake counties served by Catholic Charities.
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Msgr. Boland credited the generosity, dedication and support of all past and present Ball chairs, sponsors and generous guests whose contributions lead to a record achievement. This year's Ball also set a new high attendance mark of over 1,350 guests who enjoyed the evening's festivities.
"We're most grateful for the generosity of the many Ball patrons, corporations and foundations who have contributed to this important benefit for the children of the area," said Msgr. Boland.
"The funds raised here tonight will permit us to meet the needs of thousands of children of all faiths, races and ethnic backgrounds who are served by Catholic Charities' emergency assistance centers, transitional housing, teen parenting, maternity service, childhood development, day care, after-school tutoring and youth counseling programs," Msgr. Boland said.
Many others aided by the proceeds of the Ball are enrolled in Catholic Charities' food and nutrition education programs, he said.
"Our goal to provide beneficiaries of Catholic Charities with the professional services they need to help them become self-sufficient and to lead healthier, happier lives with a bright future," Msgr. Boland added.
The Perrys, together with 2013 Chair couple, Cheryl and Len Wiatr of the Private Bank, led a team of dedicated volunteers from throughout the Chicago area to create a memorable gracious and festive celebration of giving that benefits the most vulnerable and poorest children in Cook and Lake Counties served by Catholic Charities.
The evening began in the Grand Hall beneath a giant tapestry of Saint Nicholas to the joyous music of "The Carolers" a quartet decked out in Dickens period attire. Guests were greeted by Msgr. Boland, Auxiliary Bishops Joseph Perry and Alberto Rojas, the Perrys and Wiatrs. Later in the evening, Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I. addressed the audience.
Guests proceeded into the golden Grand Ballroom to enjoy delectable hors d' oeuvres and cocktails while awaiting the elegant dinner set in the adjacent International Ballroom. An elegant antipasto spread was a highlight of the reception.
A bountiful four- course dinner was served which began with grilled butterfly shrimp and a decorated tomato flower with poached pear and mango relish, followed by an entrée of filet beef al forno. A tantalizing chef's sampler of pumpkin cheesecake, fresh fruit tart and a double chocolate lollipop topped off the gourmet feast.
A special feature of the evening was the sounds of the season sung by a Children's Choir of voices from St. Mary's of the Lake elementary school located in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood.
Many of the Ball guests danced throughout the evening to the spirited sounds of the
Ken Arlen Orchestra.
To learn more about how to become involved with or to assist Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago please visit www.catholiccharities.net