Many of Chicago’s young philanthropists gathered on July 25 to raise $415,000 during Shedd Aquarium’s annual Auxiliary Board soirée, BLU. “Frog Wild!” celebrated Shedd’s new special exhibit, Amphibians, which features over 40 species of amphibians and highlights how their lives are full of change. BLU Co-Chairs Jay Healy, Alexis Geocaris Sutton and Christina Talarico, along with the 80-member Auxiliary Board, shared their passion for Shedd’s education and conservation initiatives with nearly 1,050 guests at one of Chicago’s premier summer fundraising fêtes.

The evening began in the aquarium’s Abbott Oceanarium, with VIP access to Amphibians and the North Terrace, featuring décor donated by Event Creative, and music by NBC The Voice’s John Martin on the Sick Family Lakefront Terrace. Partygoers enjoyed wine, cocktails and Miller Coors beer selections before being treated to an aquatic show emceed by Ken Ramirez, Shedd’s Animal Care & Training Advisor and Executive Vice President & Chief Training Officer for Karen Pryor Clicker Training. The audience was surprised and delighted by a parade of Magellanic penguins, and a demonstration of the “Shedd Way” of training highlighting the interconnectedness of the living world featuring Shedd’s beluga whales and Pacific white-sided dolphins. During the performance, guests also participated in a paddle raise to support Shedd’s conservation mission, including animal rescue and rehabilitation programs – caring for animals at home and around the world.

Guests moved upstairs and explored the Waters of the World galleries, enjoyed music by The Salt & The Sea and sampled tastings from more than 20 of Chicago’s premier restaurants, including pork belly skewers from Sunda and a Maine-style shrimp roll and clam chowder from Luke’s Lobster. Guests in the VIP Lily Pad Lounge enjoyed chicken and grits from Honey Butter Fried Chicken, yellowfin tuna tataki from Filini Bar and Restaurant and libations courtesy of KOVAL Distillery. And all seafood menu offerings were sustainably sourced.

While noshing and sipping spirits, guests used their smartphones to electronically bid on an array of silent auction items, including a private dinner for 20 in Shedd’s Wild Reef exhibit and the trip of a lifetime curated by Inspirato. Powered by Gesture, this online auction allowed guests to bid at their convenience during the event, raising funds to support Shedd’s rescue rehabilitation and conservation initiatives.

Guests were also invited to indulge their sweet tooth in the late-night lounge with treats from More Cupcakes, Stan’s Donuts and Nespresso or partake in the STK Kissing Booth and plant a smooch on Shedd’s strawberry dart frog mascot. Attendees with dancing feet that had yet to grow weary were transported to an after-party at Filini Bar, Radisson Blu Aqua, concluding an eventful evening.
“BLU is always an exciting event and this year was no exception,” said Shedd President and CEO Ted A. Beattie. “We’re thrilled that our Auxiliary Board has successfully inspired Chicago’s young philanthropists to support Shedd Aquarium yet again to help raise the critical funds that allow Shedd to inspire our guests to make a difference in the living world, provide exceptional care to its 32,000 animals and support conservation efforts around the world.”

The Shedd Aquarium's Annual BLU Soirée Raises $415K


More than 1,050 guests attended the Shedd Aquarium's annual Auxilary Board gala event, BLU, this July raising $415K for Shedd programming (photo courtesy of Shedd Aquarium).