The Friends of La Rabida Children's Hospital Host Celebrity Affair with Steve Schirripa, Cheryl Bur

Wednesday July 2nd, 2008

The Friends of LaRabida Children’s Hospital is hosting its 22nd annual fundraiser on Friday, September 19, 2008 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago. Proceeds from The Big Top Ball will benefit La Rabida’s Joli Burrell Children’s Advocacy Center, a safe haven of treatment for children who have been abused, neglected or traumatized.

Event Host Steve Schirripa
Actor STEVE SCHIRRIPA of HBO’s famed “The Sopranos” series will help guide the evening’s festivities as host. Once entertainment director for the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, he is now a special correspondent for “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno and serves as a judge on the hit reality series “Last Comic Standing.” Schirripa has an impressive list of television and movie credits. He also is co-author of the national bestselling “Goomba” book series.

ABC 7’s Cheryl Burton to emcee
Emmy® award-winning CHERYL BURTON, co-anchor of ABC 7 Chicago’s 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts, returns to delight the audience as emcee. A Chicago native, Burton is very active in the community and donates much of her spare time to non-profit groups.

Honoring WGN-TV’s Merri Dee
The event honoree is MERRI DEE, WGN-TV’s Community Relations Director for more than 20 years. Dee, a long-time supporter of LaRabida and an advocate of Chicago’s children, has collected numerous awards for her support of education, orphan adoption and victim’s rights legislation. In 2007, Dee was named a U.S. Army Ambassador by Ronald R. James, assistant secretary of the Army, Pentagon.

Event Chairpersons
BOB ARTHUR, President of THE MAGELLAN CORPORATION serves as this year’s honorary chairperson. Arthur and JOLI BURRELL, President of THE FRIENDS OF LA RABIDA with a hard-working committee and staff, are planning a spectacular evening filled with surprises and celebrity guests. "It is truly an honor for us to be involved with such an admirable institution,’’ Arthur said. “The hospital does wonderful work for the community. We hope this year's gala will be the best one ever."

The annual fundraiser is a tradition began by HOWARD AND FRANKIE ALPER who founded The Friends of La Rabida in 1986 and remain actively involved in raising funds and awareness for La Rabida Children’s Hospital.

Tickets for The Big Top Ball start at $500 per person. Guests will enjoy a magical cocktail reception, silent auction, dinner, and music by the Gentlemen of Leisure Band. For more information and to obtain tickets online, please visit or call LaVerne Mathews 773.753.9602.