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posted: 2/18/2013 2:35 PM

Walk red carpet at Autism Speaks gala Sunday in Rosemont

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Submitted by Autism Speaks

On Sunday, Feb. 24, Autism Speaks will host its fifth annual An Evening with the Stars Red Carpet Spectacular, at the InterContinental O'Hare Hotel, 5300 N. River Road, Rosemont.

An Evening with the Stars, which raised more than $150,000 for autism research and awareness last year, will feature red carpet arrivals, preshow interviews broadcast live on the big screen, and live and silent auctions with prizes ranging from dinner-theater packages to all-expense paid trips to Hollywood, New York City and the Dominican Republic.

Hosting this year's event are ABC's "190 North" Mark Nilsson, Emmy Award-winning host of WGN-TV's Chicago's Best Ted Brunson and Chicago Comedienne/OWN Network star, Patti Vasquez. Brunson and Vasquez both have a personal connection to autism.

Guests will be treated to a special multimedia segment featuring the stories of individuals on the autism spectrum as well as a special musical segment by Chicago recording artist Andrew Salgado. The evening will culminate with the viewing of the 85th Annual Academy Awards telecast on multiple giant screens inside the Intercontinental Ballroom.

This year's fundraiser aims to raise $170,000. Tickets begin at $200 for individuals and sponsorships at $1,500 to $10,000 for tables of 4-10 people. For information, call (224) 567-8573 or visit

All proceeds will benefit Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism.

Co-Chairs Dan and Kerry Schlaack co-founded this event with longtime autism advocate Teri Steinberg in 2006, two years after their youngest son, Henry, was diagnosed with autism.

"We are thrilled with the overwhelmingly positive response for this exciting evening benefiting those affected by autism," said Kerry Schlaack, "and are touched by the tremendous support this fundraiser has received from the community, the media, an extremely dedicated committee, and some of Chicago's own stars who are joining us on the red carpet on Oscar night!"

Joining the Schlaacks this year are co-chairwomen Christine Swiderski and Shari Gillespie, who also have a personal, family connection with Autism.

Other VIP guests scheduled to attend: Actor and personality Aaron Freeman; actor Joe Mantegna (via video); former Chicago Bears Allan Ellis, Brian Glasgow, Mark Greene, Ike Hill, John Janata, Glen Kozlowski, Jim Thornton and Donnell Woolford; Telemundo's Oscar Guzman; Miss Illinois USA 2013, Stacie Juris; state Rep. Karen May; former Minnesota Vikings tight end Marc May; Jim Peterik, co-founder of Survivor and Ides of March; entertainment reporter Dean Richards (via video) and more.