Updated: January 24, 2014


Jose Macias

Manager, Field Development

Autism Speaks







CHICAGO - Naperville parents Dan and Kerry Schlaack knew something wasn’t right with their son, Henry, shortly after his second birthday. His behavior and communication skills began to regress, and he became non-verbal and frustrated. “He disappeared before our eyes,” said the Schlaacks.


When the autism diagnosis came, they began a tireless journey to become the best possible advocates for their son, and for others affected by the mysterious neurological disorder that affects 1 in 88 children in the US. In 2006, they co-founded a special fundraising gala for Autism Speaks, capitalizing on Hollywood’s biggest night, the Academy Awards.  


On Sunday, March 2, 2014, Autism Speaks is proud to announce its 6th Annual Oscar-themed fundraising event, An Evening with the Stars Red Carpet Spectacular, taking place at the InterContinental O’Hare Hotel, Rosemont, Illinois.  The ballroom opens at 6:00 p.m. with a VIP reception at 5:00 p.m.


An Evening with the Stars, which has raised over $500,000 for autism research and awareness since its inception, will once again bring the glitz and glamour of Hollywood to the Windy City on Oscar night, featuring glamorous red carpet arrivals, pre-show interviews broadcast live on the big screen, and live and silent auctions with prizes ranging from dinner-theater packages to all-expense paid getaways.  


An Evening with the Stars is the only Oscar-themed fundraiser in Chicagoland to benefit children and families struggling with autism. With the glamorous backdrop of the 86thAnnual Academy Awards(R) broadcast, all proceeds from this Hollywood themed fundraiser will benefit Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism.


Serving as Master of Ceremonies are WGN Radio Personality, Steve Cochran and Chicago Comedienne/WGN Radio Personality, Patti Vasquez. Vasquez, a long-time advocate for Autism Speaks has a personal connection to autism as her son is affected by the disorder.  WGN Radio Personality, Spike Manton, a longtime supporter of An Evening with the Stars to provide guests a fun and enthusiastic red carpet experience before joining Cochran and Vasquez as co-host inside the ballroom.   


Musical entertainment will be provided by Chicago recording artist and long-time Autism Speaks supporter Andrew Salgado. Salgado recently released the song “Look at you Now” which is available for purchase on ITunes with portions of the proceeds to benefit Autism Speaks Chicagoland Chapter.


The evening will culminate with the viewing of the 86thAnnual Academy Awards(R) telecast on multiple giant screens inside the InterContinental Ballroom.


2014 Chairperson Dan Schlaack & Kerry Schlaack co-founded this event with long-time autism advocate Teri Steinberg in 2006, two years after their youngest son, Henry, was diagnosed with autism. When asked about the 2014 benefit, Dan commented, “I’m thrilled with the overwhelmingly positive response for this exciting evening benefiting those affected by autism and am touched by the tremendous support this fundraiser has received from the community, the media, an extremely dedicated committee, and some of Chicago's own stars who are joining us on the red carpet on Oscar night!"  In June of 2013, Kerry Schlaack aligned her professional acumen and personal passion for autism advocacy and awareness by joining Autism Speaks as the Executive Director of the Chicagoland Chapter.


Chicago notables who have lent their name and celebrity as honorary committee members include Actor Joe Mantegna, SNL/Second City Alum, Tim Kazurinsky, TV/Movie actors Jim Belushi & George Wendt, former Chicago Bears Mark Greene, Jim Thornton, and Glen Kozlowski, Radio personality Rick Kogan, and legendary musician Jim Peterik, who will also perform that night.


The 2014 An Evening with the Stars aims to raise $120,000. Tickets begin at $175 for individuals, $300 for couples and $1,500 to $10,000 for sponsorship tables of 4 to 10 people. Premier table purchases include an all-inclusive evening starting at 5:30 pm with the special pre-show VIP reception and premier seating at the benefit. For more information, please call 224-567-8573 or visit


About Autism


Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated 1 in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 78 percent increase in six years that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.


About Autism Speaks


Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed over $195 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 95 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships and related activities in over 40 countries on 5 continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit


For reservations and other information:


Autism Speaks at 224-567-8573

# # #


Note: This event is not affiliated with nor endorsed by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences