The Cradle gala raises $130,000 for adoption services

A total of 220 guests gathered at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago on Saturday, Oct. 17, for the 21st annual Cradle Ball, which raised more than $130,000 to support The Cradle's mission of finding loving homes for babies.

"This year's benefit was simply spectacular," said Julie Tye, president and CEO of The Cradle, of Glenview. "It's so heartening to know how many people support our mission, and the funds raised will help us continue to offer programs and services that provide nurturing support to birthparents, adoptive parents, and adopted children."

The highlight of this year's gala was an appearance by Julia Sweeney, a former cast member on Saturday Night Live who is also an adoptive mom. Sweeney, who lives in Wilmette, spoke about adopting her daughter, Mulan, from China in 2001.

Cradle mom Kathy Hart, co-host of The Eric & Kathy Morning Show on 101.9 FM The Mix, who lives in Lincolnshire, served as the master of ceremonies and live auctioneer for the evening. Hart, who has two biological children, adopted her son Allen from The Cradle in 2008.

"Adoption opened a place in my heart I didn't know I had," Hart said. "The Cradle has always been there for us, for Allen and for his birth mom."

As part of the event, The Cradle also presented Silver Cradle Awards to 21 companies that support adoption by offering adoption benefits to their employees. Their benefits range from providing financial reimbursement to employees who are going through the adoption process to offering several weeks of paid leave.

"The adoption process can be emotionally and financially draining on prospective adoptive parents, so anything that companies can do to make it easier for their employees to adopt is so important," Tye said. "We are thrilled that so many companies in our area recognize the importance of making adoption a viable option for families."

The organizations that received Silver Cradle Awards this year were: AbbVie; ADM; Advocate Healthcare; Aon; Barilla America, Inc.; Baxter International, Inc.; CBRE, Inc.; CNA, Deloitte LLP; Fellowes, Inc.; Hospira, Inc.; Mead Johnson Nutrition; Northern Trust; Perkins+Will; Sidley Austin LLP; Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A.; United Way of Metropolitan Chicago; USG Corporation; VML, Inc.; W.W. Grainger, Inc.; and William Blair & Company, LLC.

Representatives from 13 of the companies were on hand to receive their awards.

Kim Simonton of Naperville served as the chair for this year's black-tie gala, which featured a cocktail reception, dinner, and dancing to live music by Greenlight, as well as a silent auction and live auction. Some of the prizes included stays in private homes in Italy, Montana and Jamaica, as well as autographed items from the Blackhawks and Bulls.

The Cradle is one of the foremost adoption agencies in the country and the only adoption agency in the country with an on-site nursery. Since it was founded in Evanston in 1923, The Cradle has helped place more than 15,000 children into permanent loving homes. The Cradle's mission is to benefit children and all others touched by adoption - by compassionately delivering exceptional education, guidance and lifelong support to build, sustain and preserve nurturing families. For more information about The Cradle visit

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