Evening with the Stars 2006



There was only one place in Chicago to be Oscar night 2006 for anyone with an autism connection. The Apollo Theater served as hosts for the 1st Annual Evening with the Stars benefiting Cure Autism Now. Members of Cure Autism Now, Autism Society of Illinois, Unlocking Autism, The Illinois Autism/PDD Training and Technical Assistance Project, were all gathered as one for this special event. The extravagant affair was hosted by the beautiful Zoraida Sambolin local news anchor from NBC News/Telemundo, The evening began with a champagne trolley ride to the Famous Catch Thirty Five Restaurant, where guest were entertained by the soothing sounds of Blues band, Two for the Blues. A delicious gourmet buffet was enjoyed by the supporters of the evening. As guests returned to the Theater, they were surrounded by the sights and sounds of Hollywood, in Chicago. The marquee was lit, the red carpet was out, and the Apollo was aglow. Giant spotlights shined into the sky, piercing the falling snow. It was an awesome sight as the flakes fell onto the giant beams. A guest claimed, “It looked like God was sprinkling glitter from the heavens.” As guests walked onto the red carpet entering the theater they were greeted by the paparazzi, busily snapping their pictures. Comedian Jeff Rogers worked the red carpet armed with microphone and live camera crew, broadcasting interviews on the three giant screens inside of the theater. The lobby was alive with activity as moving lights danced across the floor, walls and ceiling, creating the atmosphere of the Oscars themselves. The Cure Autism Now logo glowed behind beautifully displayed hors d’oeuvres tables while Thomas Balsamo’s “Souls” photographs graced the walls throughout the lobby and auditorium. The glamour of Hollywood and the Cure Autism Now foundation were splendidly meshed together throughout the evening, as movie themed cocktails flowed from the open bar all night long.


For the hundreds of participants at the Theater it was a wonderful sight. Especially for anyone involved in finding a cure for autism.  The stage, with three giant video screens suspended directly above the auction and raffle, was set with the true ambiance of the Academy Awards in mind. Everyone was encouraged to “grace the stage” on Oscar night to participate. Sponsor names and logos, Cure Autism Now Facts and videos, The Souls video, and other special video segments playing throughout the arrivals into the auditorium, while a live cameraman roamed the theater and the stage, displaying everything onto the big screens. The telecast began at 7pm and was a real crowd pleaser. The commercial segments were filled with a fresh blend of entertainment from our hosts, words from the co-chairs, and- multiple appeals for participation in the auction and raffle items throughout the evening. It was a fantastic night filled with fun and emotion as many of the presentations brought the house to tears.

Funny man/co-host Jeff Rogers was a crowd pleaser and really had pizzazz in his delivery for the items on display for the silent auction, which included a mink coat, trips to Mexico, A wine country getaway, Sedona Arizona, sporting events, jewelry and more.  He even modeled the mink jacket!  Zoraida Sambolin was gracious in all her presentations and literally brought many to tears with her live excerpt from CAN founder John Shestack’s year end appeal letter. She represented the tone and message from this appeal with grace and sensitivity, stressing the importance of events like this will mean to all families that share the same concerns
Honorary Committee member, Actor and Autism activist Joe Mantegna participated via video tape, in a segment that not only talked about autism, but introduced the Trip to Hollywood auction item. He thanked everyone for coming out and supporting our cause.  This was a great hit, as was the basket up for auction that featured lunch with Joe at his restaurant in California.  Joe returned later in the evening to announce the Auction was about to close. He said, “Get those bids in now. I’ll be waiting for you at my restaurant”.
Once the Movie of the Year was announced the winners of the silent auction were announced and everyone was excited to collect their treasures and felt that wonderful feeling of giving from their hearts.  It was a wonderful “Evening with the Stars” and it ended on a huge note with everyone anxious to ‘do it again next year’!!!

Special Thanks

Thanks to everyone who made this year's Evening with the Stars an overwhelming success. We'll see you on the Red Carpet next year.