Oscar night provides perfect backdrop for Autism Speaks
Jane and Ray Scott of Hinsdale | Tricia Sweet~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 4, 2012 11:32AM
An Evening with the Stars brought the glamour of one of Hollywood’s biggest nights to the Chicago area Feb. 26 as hundreds strolled across the red carpet and into the Hyatt Regency O’Hare’s grand ballroom during a benefit to support Autism Speaks.
“This is a great night,” said Ali Insoft, whose brother is autistic. “We are all having so much fun while raising tons of money for people affected by autism.”
The backdrop of the 84th annual Academy Awards — shown on three massive screens flanked by two giant Oscar statues — lent a festive air to the event, which featured a VIP preshow reception, red-carpet interviews with guests broadcast live on the big screens, movie-themed cocktails, music, raffles, and silent and live auctions. Auction items included dinner-theater packages and two all-expenses-paid trips to Hollywood and to New York City. WGN Radio’s John Williams of La Grange hosted the event, which welcomed more than 300 guests and raised over $150,000.
Peter Bell, a Hinsdale native who is executive vice president for programs and services at Autism Speaks, spoke about his 19-year-old autistic son.
“Tyler Bell is the pride of our family. He is the reason I do what I do,” Bell told the audience during one of the breaks in the Oscar telecast. “You all make it happen. We are so grateful.”
Dan and Kerry Schlaack, who chaired the 2012 benefit, founded the event in 2006 along with Teri Steniburg, two years after their youngest son, Henry, was diagnosed with autism.
Autism Speaks is the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism.