Movers and shakers and philanthropists gathered at the Shedd Aquarium recently to support the vaunted venue’s vision for a world thriving with aquatic life to share with future generations.
The black-tie “Reflections”-themed gala, was presented by GATX and hosted by the Aquarium’s board of trustees, and Co-Chairs Hilary and Lloyd Semple along with Honorary Chair Marian Phelps Pawlick, the first female board chair.
The event raised nearly $2 million to advance the Shedd’s mission of sparking conservation in, curiosity about, and compassion for the aquatic world.
“This is more than just a fundraiser; it’s a celebration of our founder’s inspired vision to bring the world to Chicago, married with today’s vision of a world thriving with aquatic life sustained by people who love, understand and protect it,” said Shedd President and CEO Dr. Bridget Coughlin.
“The generosity of our like-minded supporters who are animal enthusiasts and nature lovers helps us advance our vision. Together, we can make a difference for our blue planet.”
Guests began the night walking through the south lobby, which was adorned with giant mirrored décor and installations to play into the event’s theme and the silver jubilee anniversary of the Shedd Gala. They were greeted with opportunities to look nature in the eye with a diverse and surprising array of animal encounters.
Guests traversed the Abbott Oceanarium and were treated to “Oysters with the Otters”, enjoying delicious, sustainably sourced seafood. Then they enjoyed a special “Tomorrow Starts Tonight” aquatic presentation, followed by remarks from Dr. Coughlin and Hilary and Lloyd Semple.
Then came a stunning aquatic presentation highlighted by a finale featuring California sea lions, Pacific white-sided dolphins, green-winged macaws and more, before a lively paddle raise auction to support the Shedd’s marine and freshwater research, animal rescue efforts across the globe, and accessibility efforts.
Guests then moved to the main galleries for dinner before choosing their next adventures, which included taking photos, enjoying a new special exhibit called “Underwater Beauty”, dancing, relaxing in the jazz lounge, and visiting dessert and snack stations.