More than 850 patrons attended the 20th annual Bear Tie Ball that raised $750,000, making it the organization's largest fundraiser to date. The event, themed "Passion for a Purpose," was co-chaired by longtime supporters Nina Mariano and Tracy Scurto and held at the UIC Forum on March 9. Emcees Val Warner and Roe Conn presented a program that commemorated two decades of commitment to Bear Necessities, a national organization dedicated to supporting children battling cancer.
Bear Necessities founder Kathleen Casey welcomed the crowd and introduced this year's "Bear Hug Ambassador," Theo Yianas. His fight against cancer began at age 6 and, after 15 months of intensive treatment, he is now a healthy second-grader. Yianas introduced 20 youths who shared their stories of survival and accomplishments. Emily Wheeler told the crowd, "My motto is to never, never, never give up! In 20 years, when I grow up, I want to be back on this stage to tell you what I'm doing in my life after cancer!"
The William J. Casey Hope Award was presented to Invest for Kids, an organization that raises funds for local children's charities. "Kids deserve to be kids, and they shouldn't have cancer. We need to give them an opportunity to grow up," co-founder Ben Kovler said.
A live auction followed that included a Beverly Hills glamour package, Blackhawks and Cubs experiences, a Lester Lampert cocktail ring and United Airlines business-class tickets. The evening ended with dancing to the Al Sofia Band.
Inspired by Barrett "Bear" Krupa, who lost his battle with cancer at age 8, Bear Necessities has funded more than $4.1 million in grants across 36 states in the hope of eliminating pediatric cancer and providing support to those touched by it.
Freelance writer Candace Jordan is involved with many local organizations, including some whose events she covers
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