Venetian Masquerade Gala

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It was a night of who’s who as guests arrived decked out in their elegant masks for the Face the Future Foundation’s Gala, Venetian Masquerade Gala. Over 420 philanthropic-minded individuals came to support the not-for-profit, dedicated to helping transform the lives of children suffering from cleft palate and other craniofacial anomalies. The Foundation, which supports the Craniofacial Center at UIC College of Medicine, works to expand healthcare access for craniofacial conditions to underserved children throughout the Chicago-area.

The Venetian Masquerade Gala, held at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, on Saturday, March 14, raised over $500,000. Guests enjoyed a pre-dinner reception while browsing the silent auction offerings and also tried their luck in the “Casino,” making the rounds to the Craps, Blackjack and Roulette tables.

Renee Betzelos who chaired the fundraising event said, “It is a privilege to help raise funds for the Craniofacial Center as they truly change children’s lives and perform small miracles constantly.”

Emcee LeeAnn Trotter, from NBC5 Chicago, welcomed guests and introduced Honorary Chairs Chef Art Smith and Jesus Salgueiro who said anytime an opportunity is given to us to help children, we should take it. Trotter then introduced Foundation President Michael Judge for the presentation of the President’s Award to Mary Ann Rose and Heinz Kern for their outstanding contributions and commitment to help the FFF carry out its carrying out its mission. The couple expressed their gratitude for the recognition and said, “This is such an important charity because it helps the children here in the Chicago-area and takes on a challenge Illinois government is reluctant to undertake. The friends of the Foundation really care and will never let a child down.”

Then it was on to the live auction where the bidding for exciting packages included the following: excursions to Kauai, Buenos Aires, Roatan and Costa Rica; an elegant two-bedroom apartment in Paris; a luxury cruise aboard the Seabourn Odyssey; a French chateaux in Burgundy; business class tickets on Qatar Airways to anywhere Qatar flies; and a remarkable collection of over 125 bottles of wines. The live auction raised over $125,000 with another $120,000 in revenue coming from the Paddle Raise.

Many guests, who missed out on a live auction item, took the opportunity to bid on the silent auction before it closed. Following dinner, guests hit the dance floor and the Casino, for spirited betting, before calling it a night.

Special guests  at the Venetian Masquerade Galaincluded the following people: President-Elect of University of Illinois, Dr. Timothy Killeen; Vice-Chancellor UIC Dr. Jerry Bauman; Dean of UIC Medical Dr. Dimitri Azar; UIC Hospital CEO Dr Avijit Ghosh; Director of the Craniofacial Center at UICM Mimis Cohen MD; Chicago Police Superintendent, Gary McCarthy; and CEO of the Magnificent Mile Association John Chikow

About the Face the Future Foundation:

The Face the Future Foundation is a 501c3 which supports the work of The Craniofacial Center at the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago. The Foundation raises funds and public awareness to support the care and treatment of children born with cleft lip, palate and other craniofacial anomalies by facilitating access to state-of-the-art medical care and by supporting research and education. It is dedicated to expanding healthcare access to underserved children, in the Chicago area, who suffer from craniofacial conditions. The Foundation remains steadfast and true in its mission to help local children build brighter futures.

About the UIC Craniofacial Center

The Center at UIC College of Medicine is one of the oldest and largest facilities of its kind in the USA.

For over 65 years the Center has been renowned for excellence in its care for children suffering from cleft palate and other craniofacial anomalies. Today, it provides this care for more economically disadvantaged children than any other teaching hospital in Illinois. At the Center, no child has been turned away on the basis of ability to pay. More than 5,000 Chicago-area kids are helped annually. The Center provides comprehensive care for craniofacial patients who are treated by dentists, audiologists, speech pathologists and other specialists.

Photo Credit for Venetian Masquerade Gala: Jon Recana


About Jim Wattron

Jim graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, with a degree in Business Administration. Jim has worked with the team from the beginning and he consistently strives for innovation with refreshing topics that inspire readers with context of new adventures and happenings, locally and internationally. Read more from this author.