An Urban Affair: American Cancer Society’s Discovery Ball
A guy, a guitar and eight songs: That’s how Keith Urban stole the show at the American Cancer Society’s Discovery Ball, held April 26 at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago.
During his first number, “Better Life,” Mr. Urban heard voices among the crowd of 800. He smiled. “You sound like you want to sing,” he said, and then complied with two numbers suitable for a boomer crowd: America’s “Sister Golden Hair” and Steve Miller’s “The Joker.” Its “wheet-whew” whistle, sung loudly and lustily, dissolved even tuxedoed business titans into chuckles.
Mr. Urban and his guitar were the featured entertainment at the eighth annual Discovery Ball, hosted by the American Cancer Society’s blue chip Board of Ambassadors to raise money for cancer research and awareness. Every year, a prominent CEO and spouse chair the event; this year those duties fell to Greg Wasson, president and CEO of Deerfield-based Walgreen Co. and his wife, Kim Wasson. During a brief speech, the Wassons paid tribute to Bruce Bryant, senior vice president of store operations at Walgreen, who died of cancer last year, and then acknowledged the room, glowing with the evening sun, plenty of diamonds and mounds of gleaming apples, lemons and limes that served as centerpieces. “We’re at the corner of happy and healthy here,” Mr. Wasson said.
The mood became somber and the crowd quiet when Glenn Tilton took the stage. “Cancer does not go to galas . . . cancer is not corporate,” said Mr. Tilton, Midwest chairman of JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Chicago. “Cancer is a terrible, horrible, intractable disease. Cancer is personal.”
Mr. Tilton finished and everyone perked up again, thanks to the prospect of dinner — endive salad with orange vinaigrette, Angus beef tenderloin with whiskey pink-peppercorn sauce, and a citrus cheesecake and chocolate flourless cake combo for dessert — and Mr. Urban’s show. *
Mr. Urban took the stage in a suit, the jacket of which came off pretty quickly. He rolled back his sleeves to expose formidable forearm tattoos. He broke a string — “the G string is underrated anyway,” he said — and got a new guitar. His performance, just long enough at eight songs, revved up the crowd for the live auction, a highlight of the Discovery Ball. The first auction item, a concert package for one of Mr. Urban’s show plus a signed guitar, sold for $33,000. A yellow Lab puppy went for $30,000 and a bright-red Mercedes for $42,000.
The Discovery Ball net $3.1 million for the American Cancer Society.
*Edited by blog owner…
Published at 6:21 PM Central…Friday, May 2, 2014…Nashville, Tennessee…
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