Chicagoans raise $2.1 million for the American Cancer Society at 13th annual Discovery Ball

  • The Discovery Ball 2019 event chair was President, Chief Executive Officer and Trustee of UL, Keith Williams.

    The Discovery Ball 2019 event chair was President, Chief Executive Officer and Trustee of UL, Keith Williams. Courtesy of Francis Son Photography

AJ Steinbruecker
Updated 5/1/2019 7:28 AM

The American Cancer Society's 2019 Discovery Ball, one of Chicago's premier galas, raised more than $2.1 million net to impact the lives of those affected by cancer. The 13th annual gala, Where Hope Grows, featured UL as presenting sponsor and boasted nearly 800 guests and volunteers on Saturday, April 27 at the Chicago Hilton.

The Discovery Ball 2019 event chair is President, Chief Executive Officer and Trustee of UL Keith Williams. "The theme of the event -- Where Hope Grows - is a celebration. Hope is often the first step to a successful recovery, and those affected by cancer can come to the American Cancer Society to find this hope. Hope through science-based, clear information shared by representatives day and night, hope through research for all cancers, hope through free transportation to their treatments, and hope in knowing they have support from all of us," said Williams.


American Cancer Society Illinois Executive Director, Peter Steele, kicked off the evening with a message of hope and remembrance, "Tonight, we are united in our commitment to improve the quality of care for every cancer patient. We are united by our tenacity to invest in the boldest research breakthroughs. Tonight, we are united by our resolve to attack cancer from every angle."

Two individuals and two organizations were recognized for their support of American Cancer Society. Cheryle Jackson, senior vice president, Global Business Development of AAR, and co-chair of the inaugural American Cancer Society ResearcHERs campaign was recognized with the Survivorship Award in recognition of her courage, grit and grace navigating breast cancer and using her trials as an opportunity to mentor others and make a difference in their fight against cancer.

Longtime volunteer, Tyler Prince, is executive vice president for Salesforce and was recognized with the Leadership Award. From serving on our Illinois Area Board, as a vice chair of the Discovery Ball, as a Taste of Hope committee member and most courageously for sharing his story of surviving colon cancer. He has made a significant impact in the work ACS does as an organization.

North Chicago-headquartered global biopharmaceutical company, AbbVie, was recognized as the Lifetime Workplace Giving honoree in recognition of their lifetime giving history of more than $4.6 million to ACS. In 2018, AbbVie's annual Employee Giving Campaign raised more than $800,000 for American Cancer Society.

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The Boeing company was recognized for their record-breaking success of Discovery Ball 2017, raising an astounding $6 million for the Society's mission and for their innovative approach to employee engagement. This is the second time they have received the Corporate Partnership Award.

Guests entered the stunning garden themed ballroom decorated by HMR Designs and walked through a Garden of Hope -- celebrating and remembering individuals touched by cancer. Emcee Marcellus "Marz" Lawhorn kept attendees entertained from the stage and brought a lively energy to the event. Survivor speaker Joe Koenig, president of St. Louis based World Wide Technology shared his personal and inspiring story of tongue cancer and led guests to a paddle raise of more than $600,000. Late night party guests enjoyed a concert by Barenaked Ladies and dancing to Chicago band Maggie Speaks, sponsored by Salesforce.

Contributing to the evening's fundraising success was a spirited live auction which included a private dinner and party at TAO Chicago, a Chicago sports fan package including Bears, Bulls and Cubs tickets, a night at the 2019 Primetime Emmy Awards, a trip to and a chance to sing on stage with featured performers Barenaked Ladies and more.

The ongoing success of the American Cancer Society's Discovery Ball is rooted in a strong foundation of corporate support. This year, that support was led by Discovery Sponsors including BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, The Boeing Company, Optum and Salesforce. Platinum sponsors included AON, Dell Technologies, ITW, Hewlett Packard, Enterprise, Motorola Solutions and Northwestern Medicine.


Next year's Discovery Ball will be held in April 2020 at the Chicago Hilton.

About the American Cancer Society:

The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of nearly 2 million volunteers dedicated to saving lives, celebrating lives, and leading the fight for a world without cancer. From breakthrough research, to free lodging near treatment, a 24/7/365 live helpline, free rides to treatment, and convening powerful activists to create awareness and impact, the Society is the only organization attacking cancer from every angle. For more information go to