Face the Future Foundation’s Disco Ball

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For children born with cleft palate or other craniofacial differences, there is no easy road to “normal.” These kids often face difficulties with their speech and language development, experience dental problems and a higher risk of ear infections and hearing loss, and suffer diminished self-esteem from looking different than their peers. Treatment for these conditions typically involves multiple surgeries that begin during infancy and may continue through adolescence. In addition to surgery, these young patients benefit greatly from speech therapy and counseling. Unfortunately, the financial burden from this marathon of care is too great for some families, and without assistance many children would not receive the high standard of care they deserve.

Face the Future Foundation (FFF) exists to ensure that children with craniofacial conditions have access to the care they need. The foundation’s public awareness campaigns and diligent outreach raise funds for two vital purposes: to support the Craniofacial Center at the UIC College of Medicine in research and advancement of treatment techniques and to ensure that the full spectrum of these treatments is available to the underserved children whose families could not otherwise afford them.

On Saturday, March 25th, Face the Future Foundation held its annual gala at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago. Three hundred eighty guests attended The Disco Ball, raising $540,000 for the care of local children born with craniofacial differences. But the true value of the nonprofit’s mission is reflected in the faces of the those it serves.

“My wife Tracy and I adopted a daughter with craniofacial issues, and to see her transformation through the care that she’s received—well, there is no better gift than we, as parents, can give our daughter than her smile,” explained Rob Grant, president of the foundation. “Every year I’m humbled and impressed by the generosity of our supporters to enable us to fulfill our mission so the Center can continue its life-changing work.”

Face the Future Foundation’s
President’s Award recipient Michelle Krage and Foundation President Rob Grant

Those supporters include Chicago Title as the event’s presenting sponsor and President’s Award recipient Michelle Krage. During her acceptance speech, Krage proudly announced the establishment of the Adrienne L. Green Scholarship, which will provide $5,000 toward the post-secondary education of a former UIC Craniofacial Center patient each year.

The night began with a cocktail reception and silent auction before the doors of the Grand Ballroom opened and the banquet hall filled with guests and the music of the Village People. As attendees enjoyed their first course, Lourdes Duarte of WGN took to the podium as Master of Ceremonies, speaking of Face the Future’s dedication to the patients it serves, many of whom are economically disadvantaged minorities. Auctioneer David Goodman led what he described as “competitive giving” to raise proceeds, his enthusiasm encouraging bidders to compete for luxury vacations and an expertly curated collection of fine wine.

An appealing video showcasing the work of the Craniofacial Center was shown. Following the video, Goodman led the paddle raise. At the $100 level gala co-chairs Isabell and Gus Abello offered a match. Total donations for the gala topped $200,000.

After guests enjoyed their main course, the evening closed with dancing and the final hour of the silent auction.

Face the Future Foundation’s gala is only the first of the annual events that bring donors, board members, and patients together to celebrate past accomplishments and raise money for continuing success, but those interested in offering a donation to Face the Future needn’t wait for the next event. Donations are gratefully accepted online by following the link provided here.

Featured Photo: UIC Craniofacial staff with Medical Director Mimis Cohen MD.
Photo Credit: Mila Samokhina

About Margaret O'Connor

Margaret J. O’Connor is the founder/owner of MarCon Communications, a public relations and special events firm which handles the publicity and event needs for a diverse range of clients. She’s involved with numerous charities in Chicago and is active in its lifestyle and social scene. She grew up and was educated in Africa, Australia and America and holds degrees in marketing and finance from the University of Illinois. She is a contributing writer to many print and digital publications and her focus is lifestyle, culinary and nonprofit events. Read more from this author.