Approximately 500 supporters came out for Bon FosterLambda Legal's annual benefit gala in Chicagowhich was held April 25 at the Art Institute of Chicago's Modern Wing. The gala, titled "A Modern Bon Foster," celebrated the progress of "our modern civil-rights movement" and honored Executive Director Kevin M. Cathcart for his 20th year with the organization. The event was made possible through the support of Northern Trust.
Lambda's Midwest Regional Manager Jim Bennett announced that the benefit raised a record-breaking $415,000. Bon Foster Co-Chair Gail Morse said the crowd was one of the biggest in the event's history.
Following a welcome by Morse and John McGowan, Northern Trust's national Leader of LGBT and non-traditional family practice, a video highlighting Cathcart's 20 years at Lambda was projected on the Modern Wing's wall. As the last slide dimmed, Cathcart stepped forward to address the soirĂ©e's attendants.
"There is nothing like watching yourself age 20 years in two and a half minutes with 500 other people [ watching ] ," said Cathcart to laughter and applause.
Cathcart went on to recount Lambda's legal achievements of the past 20 years. "Think of some of the victories: Lawrence v. Texas, marriage in Iowa … hospital visitation … I could go on and on. But as you think of these, please fill in your own favorites. There are literally hundreds to choose from."
Cathcart also cited current cases, including a brief Lambda filed at the U.S. Supreme Court, on behalf of a 145 HIV/AIDS organizations, defending the Affordable Care Act from the perspective of people with HIV. He also spoke of his "new favorite case in the Midwest," that of Maverick Couch, an Ohio student who, on April 3, was threatened with suspension if he wore a T-shirt to school bearing the slogan "Jesus Is Not A Homophobe."
After he thanked the audience for making "this work and this organization possible," board member Karen Dixon took the stage. Dixon presented Cathcart with a Chicago Cubs baseball jersey on behalf of "all those who consider the Midwest our home and in recognition of the wisdom you showed when you decided to go ahead and open that Midwest office."
Shortly after, the gala's reception commenced and continued into the evening. Bon Appetit catered it, and the reception featured DJ Sadie Woods.
Lambda Legal is the nation's oldest and largest legal organization working for the civil rights of LGBTQ people. Its annual Bon Foster gala is named after Robert Bonvouloir Foster, the principal founder of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, who died in 1991 of AIDS complications. His bequest helped open Lambda's Chicago office.