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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Center Swings Open
by Amy Wooten
2007-06-13

This article shared 2964 times since Wed Jun 13, 2007
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Billie Jean King helped to open the Center on Halsted gymasium named for her at Friday night's 1,000-person sold-out gala kick-off opening for the massive new GLBT community Center on Halsted at Waveland. From left: King's partner Ilana Kloss, King, Rep. Rahm Emanuel ( who helped earmark more than $1 million in federal funds for the Center ) , Center Executive Director Robbin Burr, and incoming Executive Director Modesto 'Tico' Valle. #2 Ilana Kloss and Billie Jean King unveil the recreational hall dedicated to King. # 3 Miriam Hoover is honored. To see more photos click on links which appear at the bottom of this story. ____________

More than 1,000 people, from politicians to activists, welcomed the new Center on Halsted at perhaps the largest one-time GLBT benefit in Chicago history on June 8. The event raised more than $1.5 million.

'Tonight is a night of remembrance and community,' said Modesto 'Tico' Valle, who will take the reigns from Robbin Burr and become executive director July 1. 'This night is a night of nights!'

'What do you think of our building?' Center on Halsted Board Chairman Robert Kohl asked the hundreds of attendees who gathered in a large tent outside after filling all three floors of the new building to mingle and take tours of the most comprehensive LGBT center in the country. Kohl was met with wild applause.

During the program, it was announced that Board Chair Emeritus Patrick Sheahan's now infamous watchword quote, 'We must be bold enough to dream it; naïve enough to believe it; and tenacious enough to make it happen,' will be permanently engraved at the Center in his honor.

'I play to win,' Sheahan said. 'And the way for me is saving lives, changing lives—one person at a time.

'Winning is about living out and open, and we're all winners tonight,' he continued.

Prior to the dinner and program, former tennis champion Billie Jean King—honorary co-chair of the Center's capital campaign—was recognized at the recreation center's dedication ceremony. After the ceremony, King said, 'It's so great to be able to go to the Center on Halsted and just touch everything. It's amazing. It's tangible.

'Each generation lays down the first layer of bricks for the next generation, and you have done that literally,' King continued.

Human First Awards were presented to Miriam Hoover and The Edward Gould Charitable Trust. Local philanthropist Hoover donated $1 million to the Center to name the Hoover-Leppen Theatre. Ed Gould, the visionary behind L.A.'s Gay & Lesbian Center, left behind a trust when he passed away in the late '90s. His partner, Fred Nelson, has continued his work in the community, and came to Chicago's Center as treasurer and chair of the finance committee.

According to Sheahan, after all obligations are fulfilled, the Center will have a $6 million endowment.

'This building, this beacon, is large enough to cultivate and hold all of our dreams,' Valle said.

Entertainment included numerous numbers from the musical Rent and singer Betty Buckley.

More Photos at the links:

Guests

Gym Dedication

The Main Event

The Program


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