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Night of Dreams Gala Raises $350,000 for Have Dreams

June 05, 2012

Have Dreams, a local autism resource nonprofit hosted its fourth annual Night of Dreams Gala on April 27 at the JW Marriott in Chicago to raise funds for Have Dreams' renowned autism intervention services.

John and Kathy Bruckner of Chicago and Matt and Andrea Johnson of Glenview served as Committee Co-Chairs of this year's Night of Dreams event. This year's Gala Committee also included Brian and Carol Callaci of Kenilworth, Ted and Michelle DeGaetano of Addison, Fred and Jill O'Connor of Evanston and Julia Vander Ploeg of Naperville.

Walgreens was awarded as this year's Night of Dreams honoree for its Inclusive Workplace and Disability Inclusion Programs that have created meaningful job opportunities for individuals with autism. "Walgreens has a rich history of growing talent and recognizing ability," said Steve Pemberton, Chief Diversity Officer and Divisional Vice President of Walgreens who accepted the Night of Dreams 2012 Honoree award on behalf of the company. "As we are committed to creating and maintaining a diversified workforce, this new training center will provide hands-on experience, grow confidence and help open more doors to opportunities in the retail world."

In addition to honoring Walgreens, another highlight of the evening was the announcement of Have Dreams' launch of a transformative vocational program for adults with autism, with Walgreens, Kim & Scott's Gourmet Pretzels and Abt Electronics all working together in this endeavor. The scope of the program is still under development but one prominent feature will be the retail training center Walgreens is building at Have Dreams' Evanston site.

Celebrated charity benefit auctioneer David Goodman of Auction Results conducted a lively auction featuring such one-of-a-kind opportunities as a VIP trip to Bordeaux, France including visits to renowned chateaux and wineries in the region, a trip to the 2013 Grammy Awards, an exclusive travel package for the 2013 Masters Tournament, and a VIP New York city weekend including seats to the live broadcast taping of Comedy Central's Night of Too Many Stars and an invitation for two to the show's exclusive after-party.

To date, the gala has raised nearly $350,000. Funds raised from the Night of Dreams will be used to support the organization's signature Social, Communication and Independent Living Skills Program (SCILS), and the numerous Have Dreams autism resource services provided to Chicago area participants, families and professionals.

Have Dreams was proud to have Walgreens, Daniel and Julie Aronson, the JVH Foundation and New York Center for Autism as leading sponsors of the gala. Sheridan Road Magazine was the gala's exclusive media sponsor.

About Have Dreams

Have Dreams is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and families with autism. Have Dreams provides best practice programs to children with autism, helping them learn important communication and social skills enabling them to develop into contributing members of their communities. Have Dreams also provides autism training to teachers and professionals, consultative, diagnostic, assessment and family support resource services. Have Dreams was established in 1996 and has locations in Park Ridge and Evanston, Illinois. For more information please visit

© Copyright 2012 Sun-Times Media, LLC

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