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Chicago Auto Show Charity Benefit Raises $2.5 Million

CHICAGO (Feb. 13) - Eighteen area charities tonight shared in more than $2.5 million raised by the 2015 Chicago Auto Show’s benevolent event, First Look for Charity, and two attendees left with the keys to new automobiles.

The event raised $2,510,714, one of the more prosperous tallies for the 24-year-old black-tie fundraiser. About 9,500 people attended First Look for Charity, held the evening before the auto show opens this year’s nine-day public run.

“First Look for Charity is a great instrument for the area’s new-car dealers to show the positive impact they have on their community,” said John Webb, chairman of this year’s auto show. “All the benefiting charities are involved locally, so the money that’s raised in Chicago stays in Chicago.”

As the name of the event implies, those who attend First Look for Charity are part of the premier viewing of each year’s Chicago Auto Show. Tickets to the fund-raiser were $250 each, and purchasers could elect to have their proceeds equally benefit all participating charities, or any one charity for which they had an affinity. For the event, the auto show floor is replete with a variety of food and beverage stations.

A highlight of the evening is the drawing for a new vehicle, the event’s grand prize. This year’s event featured two 2015 model-year prize vehicles: a Ford Explorer and a Ford Fusion. Joe Alexander, of Joliet, held the winning ticket for the Explorer; and Chicagoans Mike and Eileen Mertens won the Fusion.

A past member of the Misericordia Heartracers, Alexander said he has ran three marathons to raise funds for the nonprofit, which also is a First Look for Charity beneficiary. Now in graduate school, Alexander said he can’t devote the time to train for another marathon, so he supports Misericordia by attending benefits in which the charity is involved.

Fans of Chicago’s team on Major League Baseball’s junior circuit, the Martenses said they intend to take their new Fusion and “drive it down to spring training and watch the White Sox.” Proceeds of their First Look for Charity ticket purchase benefited the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago.

In all, 18 Chicago area charities profited from this year’s event. Other organizations included 100 Club of Chicago, Advocate Sherman Hospital, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Joliet, Clearbrook, and The Cradle Foundation.

Also, Franciscan Community Benefit Service, Franciscan St. James Health, Ray Graham for the Association of People with Disabilities, Illinois Spina Bifida Association, and JDRF. 

And, the Ann & Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, March of Dimes, Special Olympics Illinois, Turning Pointe Autism Foundation, and the Jesse White Tumbling Team.