With over $500,000 raised, the 2nd annual Storybook Gala, themed after J.M Barrie’s famed Peter Pan, was an unprecedented success. The magical evening provided a perfect atmosphere for interaction between guests who exemplify the passion we share for Chicago’s most at-risk children. We were incredibly delighted to honor Graham Allen with the Pitch In for Excellence Award and were esteemed to have Captain Matt Duffy introduce Mr. Allen as well. Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated writer and actress Bonnie Hunt also provided for an entertaining evening as the Gala emcee.

Hosted at Moonlight Studios on September 23, arriving guests were greeted outside the venue by two British guards; fully costumed, each mirroring the pale personalities of a true storybook duo.

Each invitee was led through the grand entrance in the “Streets of London;” a magical ambiance filled with accents of red and gold. The beautiful modern brick hallway was complete with lanterns and luscious foliage, which gave the feeling as if one were strolling down the cobblestone paths of London.

Generous donations from Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Citadelle Gin, Maracame Tequila, Lakeshore Beverage, Heritage Wine Company, Breakthru Beverage, Templeton Rye Whiskey and Cream Wine provided guests with swills and signature cocktails as they mixed and mingled in “The Darlings Parlour” cocktail room. The space, spread with notes of floral décor, also contained a bright red telephone booth stationed for guests to take pictures.

As the formal evening began, mischievious “lost boys” and acrobats led guests to their seats in the Revel Decor designed banquet room. Bright blues and greens splashed throughout the room, with Pan-themed table markers labeling each table as if guests were in Neverland. Twinkling lights and clouds dazzled guests leading into the Neverland themed brigade, as the string quartet strummed their chords to echo throughout the halls.

Faint clinks of Luc Belaire could be heard throughout the room as toasts to Graham, Kerry, and Sarah were performed.

The evening progressed with the official presentation of the Pitch In for Excellence Award to Mr. Graham Allen. Commander Matt Duffy introduced Mr. Allen, relaying the importance and significance of what he does for the Wood Family Foundation and the Chicagoland community.

Following the presentation, two pirate themed acrobats charmed the audience with their impressive twists, lifts, and tosses.

With some laughs, a raffle, a paddle raise and an exciting live auction, which included trips to Tuscany, Nashville, and New York City – the evening concluded with a beautiful performance by an extremely talented aerialist. Following the performance, two sword wielding pirates led guests onto Hook’s Private Deck and afterparty fueled with deep red decor, a sailing mast, fishnets, and tunes by the tenacious DJ Meghan Trainer.

Guests tantalized their sweet tooth with delicious treats and displays from West Town Bakery, Eli’s Cheesecake, Swirlz Cupcakes, and Vosges Haut-Chocolat. Everyone’s inner-pirate unleashed on these treats, with only a few crumbs remaining on the sea-faring tables.

It was an extremely successful event, and we’re very thankful for each of our esteemed guests and sponsors who attended. The Wood Family Foundation could not operate without your support, and we truly hope all who attended enjoyed the inaugural festivities! Always remember, it’s OK to never grow up…

All proceeds from this event will help support Pitch In, our afterschool mentoring program serving Chicago’s very own North Lawndale neighborhood.

Special thanks to our Sponsors: Sloan Valve, Wintrust, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase, William Blair, Cubs Charities, Tom and Cece Ricketts, and Pivot Design.


For sponsorship and partnership information, please contact Zachary Korotko at Zachary@woodfamilyfoundation.org.

Storybook Gala proceeds support Lawndale students in the Pitch In program. Through Pitch In, students experience the world outside their neighborhood through guest speakers, field trips, caring mentors and educational activities.