Growing Brilliantly Dinner Party Raises $500,000 in Support of The Morton Arboretum

Tables of people eat dinner in a tent lit by strings of lights
The Arboretum’s annual fundraising event raised a record $500,000 in funds for the institution's tree-focused work.
October 24, 2018

On Saturday, September 29, The Morton Arboretum welcomed nearly 400 guests to the Growing Brilliantly Dinner Party in support of the institution’s tree research, collections and education programs. Emceed by media personalities and tree champions Bill Kurtis and Donna La Pietra, the Arboretum’s annual fundraising event raised a record $500,000 in funds enabling the Arboretum to further the impact of its mission to plant and conserve trees through the Arboretum’s onsite collections, throughout the Chicago region and globally.

The event’s theme reflected the Arboretum’s Growing Brilliantly fundraising campaign to support the growth of scientific and other tree-focused work for the public good. The five-year, $63 million dollar campaign has established the Center for Tree Science, advanced tree conservation programs, created a new curatorial and operations center, expanded new plant production and enhanced the Children’s Garden. Support offered through the campaign and event equips the Arboretum to preserve the institution's 1,700 acres of tree collections and natural areas and propel scientific advancements to protect trees in local communities and elsewhere in the world.

As they arrived, Dinner Party guests were welcomed with artistically designed pumpkin displays celebrating the season. Following a cocktail reception, dinner was held outdoors in a clear tent surrounded by the Arboretum’s landscape. The event also featured dancing to music from the Steve Edwards Orchestra. New this year were live auction prizes highlighting the institution’s tree-focused mission and the Arboretum as a place for outdoor exploration and recreation. Prizes included a Glamping at the Arboretum package, courtesy of Airstream of Chicago, REI Co-Op and Aramark/Ginkgo Catering and a luxury golf getaway to Sand Valley Golf Resort in Wisconsin, which included roundtrip private jet travel, courtesy of supporter Robert Berry.

Chicago-area individuals, businesses and foundations generously supported the Dinner Party, including A. Marek Fine Jewelry of Oak Brook, the G. Carl Ball Family Foundation and Charles and Monica McQuaid. The evening featured a raffle with prizes including pavé diamond earrings donated by A. Marek Fine Jewelry, a dinner for 10 at the Arboretum courtesy of Food for Thought catering and an Arboretum tribute tree. Guests enjoyed food and wine by Food for Thought and decor by Phillip’s Flowers and Kristina Taheri Special Events.

The 2018 Dinner Party Host Committee included Darcy and Mark Adams of Oak Park, Anna Caroline Ball of Glen Ellyn, Susan and Christopher Burke of Naperville, Sterling and Zech Decker of St. Charles, Rose and Bob Fealy of Chicago, Donna La Pietra and Bill Kurtis of Chicago, Amy and Steve Louis of Hinsdale, Liz and Steve Van Arsdell of Naperville and Oriana and Adam Van Someren of Naperville.

About The Morton Arboretum Growing Brilliantly Campaign
The five-year, $63 million dollar Growing Brilliantly campaign enables The Morton Arboretum, one of the world’s leading tree-focused research institutions, to deepen its scientific and conservation work, expand new tree development and improve core facilities to meet its strategic vision, including the redevelopment of South Farm, which serves as the curatorial and operations hub for the 1,700-acre Arboretum. In addition to supporting the new South Farm complex and plant production facilities, the campaign funds critical initiatives, including the Arboretum’s tree conservation and New Plant Development programs, enhancements to the award-winning Children’s Garden and the launch of the Center for Tree Science. The Center for Tree Science provides opportunities for tree scientists, professionals and students to collaborate and participate in training.