A playful rock 'n' roll theme played out Friday night at the annual charity ball hosted by officials with Shelter, Inc.
But there was nothing playful about the gala's mission, of raising money for emergency and long-term care for abused and neglected children in the Northwest suburbs.
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The 26th annual ball drew nearly 300 people and took place at the Hyatt Regency Schaumburg, which has partnered with Shelter officials every year since the gala's inception in 1987.
NBC 5 reporter, Michelle Releford, served as emcee for the evening, while Los Angeles attorney, Brad Seiling, served as honorary chairman.
Pat Beck, executive director of Shelter, brought the ballroom to a hushed silence when she described the increased need for children's services, especially during the recession, when job uncertainty and financial worries plague families.
"It never gets any easier to here their stories," Beck said. "When children come to Shelter, we are that one defining moment. We love them, we cherish them, they're family."
But the highlight of the evening came with the presentation of the Paul Buckholz Award, the agency's highest honor that was named after the Arlington Heights police officer who helped to start Shelter.
Robert O'Meara of Barrington, board president, presented the award to a former 14-year board member and past president, Richard Sykes of Inverness.
"He was one of the key members of the board during a time of our biggest growth at Shelter," O'Meara said. "He really shepherded that expansion."
Sykes is the Midwest manager for McKinsey & Co. in Chicago, and is an expert in operational effectiveness and strategy in helping improve the ways companies do business. But his attraction to Shelter came from the heart, he said.
"I was inspired by the mission," said Sykes, the father of three boys. "I was impressed by the variety of programs covering the full spectrum of those in need, and it was a chance to help children in my own community."
Sykes served on Shelter's board of directors from 1998-2012, including two years as president.
Shelter officials credit him with guiding the agency through significant expansions of its Healthy Families Program that provides home visits to first-time parents and emphasizes positive parenting.
They also credit Sykes with bringing national accreditation to the agency's three group homes for adolescents -- including one in Arlington Heights and two in Palatine -- by the Council on Accreditation.