When it comes to raising money and awareness for autism treatment, Jenny McCarthy says nothing compares to the support she and Donnie Wahlberg have received from St. Charles and the Chicago area.
Fans from across the state and beyond filled the Arcada Theatre on Monday night for a fundraiser and solo concert hosted by Wahlberg to benefit the charity Generation Rescue, which he and McCarthy are on the board of. Last year's inaugural event raised more than $700,000 for the nonprofit, which helps fund treatment for families affected by autism.
"It goes to show you the heart a small community has," said McCarthy, who lives with Wahlberg in St. Charles. "We couldn't be more proud."
During his performance, Wahlberg, a member of New Kids on the Block, was joined on stage by other band members, as well as hip-hop trio Naughty by Nature and R&B group Boyz II Men. The concert was also followed by a VIP after party at Shakou St. Charles.
New Kids fan Emily Kidd of North Aurora attended Wahlberg's benefit concert last year and said she was impressed with the theater's intimate setting and the quality of the performance.
For Geneva resident Jen Goben, the event serves a dual purpose: She gets to see a performance by Wahlberg, of whom she's a huge fan, while also helping McCarthy's cause.
"It's extremely important to pay it forward," Goben said. "It's a great way to give back to the community and then get entertained at the same time."
Elburn resident Sherrie Klint, a kindergarten teacher at Mill Creek Elementary School in Geneva, said she attended the fundraiser to support McCarthy, Generation Rescue and the many children she works with who have been diagnosed with autism.
McCarthy has traveled throughout the country raising money and awareness for various organizations since her son, Evan, was diagnosed with autism in 2005. She is now the president of Generation Rescue's board of directors.
Raised on the South Side of Chicago, McCarthy said bringing her family -- and her charity -- back to the suburbs has been extremely rewarding.
"I knew coming back, no matter where I lived in the Chicago area, Evan would have a great grounding for the rest of his life," she said. "(St. Charles) is a very small city that I'm in compared to the Beverly Hills events that we used to do. The fact that we raise triple, quadruple the amount that we did in Beverly Hills goes to show you I chose right when I chose St. Charles."