The Y. So Much More Recognition Dinner


More than 450 attendees came together on October 27 for the third annual The Y. So Much More™ Recognition Dinner.

Emceed by NBC5 reporter LeeAnn Trotter, the Recognition Dinner shed light on the needs, struggles and triumphs of our Y community members. YSVP Story Squad and Urban Warriors alumnus Noah Bakr recounted his struggles with violence and loss, the voice he found through the Y, and his subsequent high school graduation and college enrollment through a video and live rap performance. Story Squad alumnus Nancy Ramirez shared how the Y has helped her deal with the loss of her brother, and Sage YMCA member Susan Lombardo spoke about the Y’s role in helping her granddaughters find peace, hope and family after their mother’s unexpected death.

The YMCA Center, the Y’s new headquarters and innovative demonstration center, was showcased in a video introduced by board members Amy Carbone and Michael DiMedio, Co-Chairs of the YMCA Center Campaign.

Longtime Buehler YMCA board member Rita Canning, received the So Much More Than A Leader Award. Rita is Chair of the Board of Directors of Wings (Women In Need Growing Stronger), an organization that helps women and children in the northwest suburbs of Chicago escape domestic violence.

Peter McNitt, Vice Chair of BMO Harris Bank, accepted the So Much More Than A Partner Award on behalf of the bank. For over 30 years, BMO Harris Bank has been one of the Y’s most steadfast partners, showing their support through a wide variety of initiatives, including a $1 million gift in support of the design and programming for the Y’s new Learning Institute at the YMCA Center.

The very first So Much More Than A Volunteer Award was presented posthumously to Abner Garcia, a U.S. veteran and mentor in the Y’s Urban Warriors program who lost his life in August 2016 to Chicago’s gun violence epidemic. Abner’s mother, father, and siblings accepted the award on his behalf.

Overall, the dinner raised more than $1 million to promote academic readiness, character development, violence prevention, and fitness and healthy living.

YMCA President and CEO Dick Malone with emcee LeeAnn Trotter and Y Board Chair Peter McNitt

The first ever So Much More Than A Volunteer Award was presented posthumously to the family of Abner Garcia, a mentor in the Y’s Urban Warriors program

Noah Bakr captivates the room with his rap performance

David Hiller presents the So Much More Than A Partner award to BMO Harris Bank, accepted by Peter McNitt, Vice Chair