Wellness House Ball ... At Your House goes virtual

While the pandemic has affected everyone, young and old, those living with cancer have been particularly impacted. Wellness House has provided a constant source of support for the thousands of patients who rely on the cancer resource center.

"Coping with the effects of cancer has not taken a back seat to COVID-19 for the patients and families Wellness House serves," said Deb Kwiatt, marketing communications manager at Wellness House. "They need Wellness House even more now and we need the community to help us be there for them."

In March, at the onset of the pandemic, Wellness House quickly transitioned all in-person programming to an online format to ensure the nonprofit's patients and families would receive uninterrupted support. According to Kwiatt, since March 16, participants have made 22,500 visits to Wellness House's online programs.

"We knew that (quarantining at home) would make coping with cancer even more challenging, including an increased feeling of isolation," Kwiatt added. "Being able to access support, without leaving home, has had a profound impact for participants during the pandemic."

And this "at home" mindset has also proven to help bolster the organization's fundraising efforts. This past June, the Wellness House hosted a virtual walk, in lieu of its annual walk/run fundraising event. The event raised 90 percent of its pre-COVID fundraising goal of $625,000. With that event under its belt, staff and volunteers knew it was feasible to hold the annual gala, which contributes nearly 20 percent of the organization's revenue, virtually.

"We were thrilled with the outcome of the Virtual Walk for Wellness House in June," said Kwiatt. "The community came together and ... we learned a lot from that experience and are excited to now hold the ball virtually."

Co-chaired by Allison and Rob Knuepfer and Kerstin and Geoff Regnery, this year's "Wellness House Ball ... At Your House" will take place Saturday, Oct. 17, and marks the 30th anniversary of the opening of the storied facility.

In keeping with past years, guests will enjoy gourmet food, only this year from the comfort of their own home, or at a friend's home. James Beard and Michelin star awarded BOKA Restaurant Group has created an exclusive four-course restaurant experience for guests. The wine auction committee hopes to sell out prior to the event so that wine purchased can be picked up from Wellness House to enjoy or share with hosts on the day of the event.

According to Kwiatt, the livestream video production will include touching stories and tributes speaking to the impact Wellness House makes on the lives of people affected by cancer, as well as silent auction highlights and opportunities for guests to further support the mission.

"When we made the decision to go virtual for the ball this year, we did so with the caveat that the 'brand' for the Wellness House Ball would remain the same, only the setting would change," said Kwiatt. "The event will still be elegant, sophisticated, inspiring and celebratory, especially considering that this year marks the 30th anniversary of Wellness House."

Guests can purchase tickets at different levels, ranging from access to the livestream program to cocktails and canapes to a full dinner, priced at $50 to $175. To purchase tickets, please visit https://wellnesshouse.org/Ball-2020.

- Alexis Braden of Hinsdale is the paper's society columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].