WGN Radio’s John Williams Emceed Academy Award Fundraiser:
NBC5’s Kim Vatis and Stefan Holt, WGN TV’s Ted Brunson,
Comedienne Patti Vasquez on hand to raise funds for Autism Speaks.

On Oscar Night, Sunday, February 26, 2012, Autism Speaks hosted An Evening with the Stars, a red carpet spectacular, with the backdrop of the 84th Annual Academy Awards® broadcast, at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare, 9300 Bryn Mawr Avenue in Rosemont, Illinois.  The Grand Ballroom was packed for this glamorous, Oscar-themed celebration that included amazing food, live entertainment, stunning decor, and a star studded red carpet, complete with lights, cameras and lots of action!  Over 300 guests celebrated the best of Hollywood while raising money for Autism Speaks.


An Evening with the Stars, was also the only Oscar-themed celebration in Chicagoland to benefit children and families struggling with autism, a neurological disorder that affects 1 out of every 110 children.

WGN Radio's John Williams brought his unique style and personality to this year's event as Master of Ceremonies.  NBC5's Kim Vatis and Stefan Holt hosted a VIP pre-event reception in Ventanas, the revolving restaurant on the roof of the Hyatt Regency Hotel with spectacular views of the city and suburbs.  Emmy award-winning host of WGN-TV's Chicago's Best Ted Brunson and Chicago comedienne extraordinaire Patti Vasquez welcomed guests on the red carpet with hilarious interviews broadcast live on the big screens inside the Grand Ballroom.  

An Evening with the Stars brought the glitz and glamour of Hollywood to the Windy City, featuring red carpet arrivals, pre-show interviews broadcast live on the big screens and live and silent auctions with prizes ranging from dinner-theater packages to all-expense paid trips to Hollywood and New York City.  

Guests were treated to a very special multi-media segment featuring milestones and accomplishments of individuals on the autism spectrum, with musical accompaniment provided by Chicago recording artist Andrew Salgado and Grammy Award winner, Jim Peterik.  Salgado and Peterik, who is best known for his work with the band, Survivor, and Ides of March, have been long-time supporters of Autism Speaks.  

The evening culminated with the viewing of the 84th Annual Academy Awards(R) telecast on multiple giant screens inside the Hyatt's Grand Ballroom.   

Additional VIPs included: Actor and personality Aaron Freeman; Judy Garcia, WGN/CLTV; Grant Mulvey, Blackhawks Alumni; Former Chicago Bears tight end Brian Glasgow; Former Chicago Bears running back Mark Greene; Ed Curran of FM News 101.1; Telemundo's Oscar Guzman; Univision’s Erika Maldonado; Aureliano Salgado of Univision; CBS2 Chicago’s Kristyn Hartman; Former Chicago Bear John Janata; Judie Garcia of WGN – TV; Former Chicago Bears wide receiver Glen Kozlowski; Former Chicago Bears tight end Jim Thornton; and, Marisela Vazquez, Telemundo.  Actor and autism Activist Joe Mantegna joined via video greeting, with a special message of support for the ballroom guests.  CNN Anchorperson Zoraida Sambolin, who previously hosted the fundraiser, and Chicago Tribune entertainment reporter Dean Richards also joined the 315 guests inside the Grand Ballroom via video message.


Autism Speaks, founded in 2005 by former Chief Executive of NBC Universal and current Vice Chairman, General Electric Bob Wright and his wife, Suzanne, is dedicated to increasing awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for Autism, and to advocating for the needs of affected families.

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

At Autism Speaks, our goal is to change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders.

We are dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism; to raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society; and to bringing hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder. We are committed to raising the funds necessary to support these goals.

Autism Speaks aims to bring the autism community together as one strong voice to urge the government and private sector to listen to our concerns and take action to address this urgent global health crisis. It is our firm belief that, working together, we will find the missing pieces of the puzzle.

Autism Speaks. It's time to listen.