Shedd Aquarium’s Black Tie Fête Raises Record-Breaking $1.67 Million for Community Access and Education

June 11, 2014

The Goldfish Ball Offered Guests an Action-Packed Lineup Featuring Broadway Performer Susan Egan

CHICAGO — Chicago’s top philanthropic leaders came together on June 7 to raise more than $1.67 million during Shedd Aquarium’s annual learning-themed gala. The Goldfish Ball, coined in recognition of a child’s first introduction to aquatic life, attracted 800 guests that celebrated and supported Shedd’s mission of connecting people to the living world. Gala Chairman Sandi Simon and her committee of more than 60 volunteers planned an evening that was educational and entertaining, as well as a fundraising success.

Prominent philanthropic leaders, including Shedd Board Chairman Tyrone C. Fahner of Mayer Brown LLP, along with Shedd trustees and government officials, came out to celebrate in style and show their support of the aquarium’s mission-based community access initiative.

Harpist Penny Currier filled the air with soothing sounds as tuxedoed and glittering guests arrived at the event. Sipping on specialty cocktails and sampling hors d’oeuvres that included a selection of Right Bite approved sustainable sushi, smoked herb crusted lamb lollipops and lobster mac and cheese catered and generously donated by Sodexo, guests were offered the unique opportunity to meet a stingray, encounter a beluga whale and get up-close to several different aquatic animals. The Chicago skyline offered a breathtaking backdrop as partygoers mingled on the north terrace and were serenaded by the sultry jazz sounds of the Paul Marinaro Duo.

The evening entertainment continued as guests took their seats for Shedd’s aquatic show emceed by famed journalist, television presenter and longtime Shedd supporter Bill Kurtis, and co-produced by Shedd Trustee Donna LaPietra. Broadway performer Susan Egan, best known for originating the role of Belle in the Broadway musical adaptation of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, provided three unforgettable vocal arrangements accompanied by Christopher McGovern and the Simone Vitale Orchestra. Guests were surprised and delighted when Shedd’s lovable sea lion Ty made a guest appearance during a show-stopping medley from the classic Disney animated film, and the aquarium’s rescue dogs dazzled as they closed out the performance in their finest formalwear.

During the aquatic show, guests also participated in a paddle raise to support Shedd’s community access program for school children, first-responders, military personnel and veterans, teachers and others, in addition to keeping aquatic science as a highlight in children’s lives. The paddle raise generated $282,000 to benefit this key initiative.

Guests dove deeper into the evening as they surveyed Shedd’s colorful animals while dining in the aquarium’s vibrant galleries, Caribbean Reef rotunda and Kovler Family Hall decorated to perfection by HMR Designs. After enjoying a dinner that included roasted heirloom carrot salad, cabernet braised beef short rib, grilled jumbo gulf shrimp and a bittersweet chocolate marquise for dessert, guests shimmied and sashayed onto the Sick Family Lakefront Terrace to the eclectic beat of the Simone Vitale Orchestra. Partygoers were also invited to step inside the Soundings Piano Lounge to munch on late night gourmet chocolate truffle and cheese pairings and sip cordials while enjoying the musical stylings of the Paul Marinaro Duo. As the evening came to a close, guests were gifted sweet treats donated by Blommer Chocolates.

“We are thrilled by the generosity of our guests attending this year’s gala,” said Shedd President & CEO Ted A. Beattie. “Attendees of The Goldfish Ball came out to endorse the important need for our children to learn about science and aquatic life at an early age. We are grateful to our many supporters who help Shedd inspire the next generation of environmental stewards to make a difference.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Gala photos, a caption sheet and other resources can be found on Shedd’s FTP site:

Shedd Aquarium is supported by the people of Chicago, the State of Illinois and the Chicago Park District. Shedd Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).


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