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Marklund breaks records with Top Hat Ball

20th annual event raises more than $600,000 in net proceeds

Published: Thursday, March 24, 2016 10:44 p.m. CST • Updated: Monday, March 28, 2016 10:56 a.m. CST
Caption
(Photo provided by Chris Guillen Photography)
Binna and Bud Porter of St. Charles (center) stand with jousters during Marklund's 20th annual Top Hat Ball fundraiser in Chicago. "As a fitting start to the evening program, Bud and Binna Porter of St. Charles, event co-chairs, were knighted for their generosity and leadership to the event," states a news release about the fundraiser.
Caption
(Photo provided by Chris Guillen Photography)
Marklund supporter Karen Golden was named the 2016 Friend of the Year during the organization's 20th annual Top Hat Ball fundraiser in Chicago. Also pictured is Marklund CEO Gil Fonger.

Marklund’s 20th annual Top Hat Ball broke all attendance and fundraising records, raising more than $600,000 in net proceeds, states a news release from the organization.

“We are so grateful to the many generous sponsors and the more than 650 attendees who participated in making this the best Top Hat Ball in Marklund history,” said Jeannine Zupo, Marklund’s director of special events, in the release.

Marklund, founded in 1954, is a nonprofit organization that provides residential, therapeutic and educational services to children and adults with severe developmental disabilities. Based in Geneva and Bloomingdale, it serves families from throughout Chicago and the suburbs. 

Held last month at the Marriott Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile, this year’s Top Hat Ball event was intended from the start to be particularly memorable, as it featured a “spectacular” Knight in Camelot theme, the release stated.

“And what a night it was! Dueling jousters, ladies in waiting and knights in shining armor mingled among the guests, while a live owl and hawk, wandering monk, sword-in-the-stone ice sculpture and an impressive castle and topiary garden all added to the ambiance,” the release states. “As a fitting start to the evening program, Bud and Binna Porter of St. Charles, event co-chairs, were knighted for their generosity and leadership to the event.”

Silent and live auctions featuring vacations to Europe, Atlantis, the Caribbean and Cancun; sporting event packages; and even tickets to the MTV Video Music Awards contributed to the fundraising success. Generous on-the-spot donations made during the event’s “Fund-in-Need” portion of the event – where guests make donations from $20,000 to $100 – also pushed the totals above past records, according to the release.

The evening also celebrated longtime Marklund supporter Karen Golden, who was named 2016 Friend of the Year. An active volunteer for Marklund since 1992, Golden, a resident of Naperville, joined the Marklund Board of Directors in 2000, serving as board chair from 2003-10. She has helped cultivate numerous new donors to the organization. In addition, she has served on the Top Hat Ball committee since 2004 and was event chair from 2013-15.

“Over the past 24 years, she has made significant personal contributions to Marklund, and continues her commitment to the ongoing work of the organization,” states the release.

“When you see the work that they do at Marklund, it compels you to act, to support and to help our kids,” Golden said in accepting her award. “I have gotten more out of Marklund than I could ever possibly give back.”

As a major fundraiser for Marklund, the Top Hat Ball has come a long way from its inaugural year when a few hundred guests “Danced Among the Dolphins” at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, raising approximately $80,000, states the release. Since then, the event has continued to grow, while keeping its goal of raising funds to support the care of those served at Marklund.  

United Airlines and Viking Travel Services held major sponsorship roles, serving as the official airline and travel sponsors for the event. Among the other major sponsors were Carol and Mike Donahue of Geneva, Porter Pipe & Supply Co. of Addison, Fitch Healthcare of Wheaton, and Zimmerman Ford of St. Charles. A full list of the Top Hat Ball sponsors can be found at www.marklund.org/tophatball.

The 21st annual Top Hat Ball will be held on Feb. 4, 2017.

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