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Saturday, September 30, 2023

DuPage Children’s Museum Benefit Ball sets fundraising record


Above / Ronald L. McDaniel, President, Western-Cullen-Hayes, Inc., 2019 Great Friend to Kids Award Recipient; Sarah Orleans, President & CEO, DuPage Children’s Museum; and Robert A. Livingston, Former President & CEO, Dover Corporation, 2018 Great Friend to Kids Award Recipient, were feted at the record-setting DuPage Children’s Museum Benefit Ball early in April.

DuPage Children’s Museum (DCM) hosted its annual Benefit Ball on Saturday, April 6, 2019. This year’s event, themed “Play Soiree,” celebrated the “power of play” and emphasized the child-adult learning partnership that is at the core of the Museum’s mission.  More than 350 Chicagoland philanthropists gathered at the Esplanade Lakes in Downers Grove to support an organization whose mission has established an important footprint in the early childhood arena across the country. 

The Museum’s 2019 Benefit Ball raised a record $656,000.

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Mark Trembacki, DuPage Children’s Museum Board Chairman, is pictured with Judy Hsu, ABC7 prime-time anchor and evening’s emcee.

Emmy-award winning ABC 7 news anchor, Judy Hsu, emceed and opened the program with reflections of what she has witnessed as a reporter covering the important work at play at DCM.  “The sense of wonder, the amazement of discovery, and that collective sense of inspiration through learning and discovery, regardless of socio-economic background – that is the power of play.”  

DCM believes that the power of play is the basis of constructing knowledge and important life skills.  Every DCM experience is purposefully designed to help children develop a strong foundation of creativity, critical thinking and problem solving skills, and confidence – strengths that help them grow to become resilient, innovative, life-long learners! 

Board Chairman Mark Trembacki cites memorable leadership & contributions

Resilience, legacy, and inclusion were important themes throughout the night. Mark Trembacki, DCM’s Board Chairman, celebrated the memorable contributions of Museum founders and leaders.  Earlier this year, DCM President and CEO, Sarah Orleans, announced her retirement. 

Trembacki highlighted Orleans’ leadership contributions by sharing the qualities that Museum stakeholders, including his board colleagues, share and support

“Sarah possesses a unique blend of operational and business-like discipline with a powerful passion for constructivist early childhood learning experiences and the promise they offer for igniting the learning potential of all children,” said  Trembacki.

He concluded his remarks with a toast to honor “all that Sarah has done to advance the Museum as a leader in early childhood education experiences locally and nationally,” noting that “from any and all perspectives, the Museum is thriving” as a result of her leadership.

Sarah Orleans expresses gratitude

Orleans’ pride and gratitude were on display. She thanked the volunteers who support DCM’s mission – from those who provide direct service to children and families inside the Museum to those who helped to make the decorations for the Play Soiree, to Board leaders who offer their business acumen, financial support, and mentorship for the Next Gen Board.

She also recognized the Benefit Ball Committee Chair, Denise Mikula, and her team, Tami Weir and Carole Gebbia, for an incredible vision that translated into a beautiful and playful celebration of DCM.

Orleans commanded the attention of the room while outlining highlights from the recent American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Report, The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing the Development of Young Children.  The message of the evening was palpable, emphasizing the important and vital role of playful learning as a vehicle to: promote healthy child development, support the formation of relationships with caregivers that children need to thrive, promote skills that build executive function and prosocial brains, and the joy that play creates and regulates the body’s stress response. 

“At DCM, we work hard to make every experience inspire curiosity and creativity in children and adults,” Orleans said.

2019 Great Friend to Kids Award

The value DCM brings to the lives of millions of families and communities in which they reside was succinctly captured in the story that was shared by the 2019 Great Friend to Kids Award recipient, President of Western-Cullen-Hayes, Inc., Ronald L. McDaniel.

“I often take Sarah to lunch, and on my way to our meetings, I arrive early at the Museum to walk around and observe. I see children having fun,” said McDaniel. “The light in their eyes and the joy on their faces is priceless. Those expressions are a direct result of the intentional work of DCM – all designed to inspire a love of learning through art, math, and science.  If you need a little joy in your life, adopt a grandchild and take them to the Museum.  You will feel younger and feel good about where your money is going and the impact you are making.”

Presenting the Great Friend to Kids Award was Robert Livingston, retired CEO of Dover Corporation and last year’s DCM Benefit Ball Award Recipient.  

“Ron joins this exceptional group of individuals who – in their work and giving – have demonstrated a genuine commitment to all children,” Livingston said. “Ron has made this commitment through his foundation, the mission of which is to support organizations that help make the world better for children.  DCM is one of the many organizations that Ron supports and champions.”  Livingston also noted the importance of resilience, mentors, and kindness. “Ron and I have much in common; we’ve both never seen any issue as a challenge, only an opportunity.  We’ve also been fortunate to have exceptional people in our lives who have helped create pathways to success in our careers; as a result, we are fortunate to make it our life’s work to pay it forward.” 

Since 2008, the Ronald L. McDaniel Foundation has donated over $2 million to DCM. 

Guests celebrated DuPage Children’s Museum mission with surprises, too

The Benefit Ball not only served as a celebration for DCM and its mission, but is also the top fundraiser for the Museum, a nonprofit which depends on donations and grants to cover a large portion of its operating budget. While introducing new donors to the Museum, it also was an occasion to acknowledge some of the Museum’s earliest supporters, past board directors and board chairs, long-time volunteers, and sponsors.

Lisa McClowry as Cher, performed duet “I Got You Babe,” with Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico.

The DCM Benefit Ball was punctuated by a number of surprises – including a special appearance of “Cher” performed by international singer-songwriter, Lisa McClowry, who recruited Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico to play the role of Sonny during her rendition of ”I Got You Babe.” 

The real surprise came when Award recipient Ron McDaniel offered a challenge match to the room to raise more than $100,000 in cash donations to the Museum in honor of Sarah Orlean’s retirement. The result was increased donor engagement and a record-breaking night of fundraising for the nonprofit.

DCM would like to thank 2019 Benefit Ball Presenting Sponsor: Ronald L. McDaniel Foundation; Lead Sponsors: BMO, Exelon, Molex, PNC Bank, Sidley; Sustainer Sponsors: Dover Foundation, Graycor Construction Company; Founder Sponsors: Allstate Insurance Company, Bulley & Andrews, Power Equipment Direct, and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.  ABC 7 Chicago served as the Media Sponsor.

Enter the Big Red Door to discovery at the DuPage Children’s Museum, located at 301 N. Washington St. (PN Photo)

DuPage Children’s Museum

The Museum helps develop curiosity, creativity, thinking, and problem solving in young children through its mission: “DuPage Children’s Museum ignites the potential of all children to learn through hands-on exploration by integrating art, math, and science.” Interactive exhibits and programs make learning fun for children and adults playing together. DCM serves over 300,000 visitors annually representing all 50 states and 575 zip codes just in Illinois. DCM’s reach and support represent well beyond the Chicagoland area. The Museum’s impact extends across cultural, financial, and educational boundaries. It touches the lives of children from all regions, providing the building blocks for success in school and life.

The Museum is located at 301 N. Washington Street in Naperville, www.dupagechildrens.org or call (630) 637-8000.

Story and photos submitted by Jaime Johnson, Sr. Marketing Manager, for Julie Carlsen, Vice President of Strategic Engagement, DuPage Children’s Museum. (DCM Benefit Ball Photos by Ron Hume)


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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.


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