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UNICEF's Third Annual Message of Hope gala

UNICEF's Third Annual Message of Hope gala

April 17 was a historic night for the Midwest Regional Office of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, as its third annual Message of Hope gala successfully completed its three-year,

$6.5-million goal for the Accelerated Child Survival (ACS) Initiative in sub-Saharan Africa. More than $470,000 was raised at the event through generous corporate and individual sponsors, ticket sales, raffles, live auctions, and a paddle raise, including a net of more than $450,000 for the ACS campaign.

“In light of difficult economic conditions over the past three years, the fact that we have reached our goal is a testament to the generosity of local philanthropists and corporations, and their commitment to helping UNICEF save lives around the world,” said Casey Marsh, director of the Midwest Regional Office. “Though we reached our goal at this event, there is still more to do. An estimated 24,000 children die daily of preventable causes around the world, and we will continue to work on behalf of children until that number is zero.”

The evening began with a cocktail reception where guests learned more about UNICEF’s work. A ten feet by 12 feet “field tent” was set up in the space, allowing attendees to view and purchase (for donation) supplies and other items that are used to save and improve lives in the field, including bed nets, polio vaccines, a school-in-a-box kit and a motorcycle.

Guests then proceeded to the candle-lit Grand Ballroom, which was styled by prominent Chicago designer Tom Kehoe. The décor was inspired by organic elements of sub-Saharan Africa, including a prairie grass centerpieces, and moss arranged to spell “message of hope.”

The Columbia College Gospel Choir kicked off the entertainment with a stirring performance. They were followed by remarks from Caryl Stern, president and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, and Renee Van de Weerdt, chief of UNICEF’s Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Section. Kids from School of Rock, the nation’s premier rock music program, located in Chicago, brought the crowd to their feet with their performances of songs including, “The Climb” and “More Than Words.” Finally, everyone was on the dance floor when the band Little Big Men rocked the house.

Before the night ended, organizers confirmed that proceeds from the event had exceeded the $400,000 needed to reach the campaign goal. A champagne toast for all attendees and extended round of applause marked the occasion.

“This event celebrated the giving spirit of those who support the work of UNICEF,” said Chris Baldwin, managing director at Credit Suisse and sole chair for the event. “I’m honored to have been a part of such a successful evening for this incredible organization. The generosity of those who supported Message of Hope allows UNICEF to save lives around the world.”

Photos: Gail Pollard

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