In 2004, after a close experience with cancer, Chris Okapal decided to gather a small group of family and friends to raise $5,000 in support of the American Cancer Society. The name of their team was “Circle of Friends”. In three months of fundraising, with lots of determination and support, this goal was surpassed and “Circle of Friends” was able to present a check for over $13,000.
Inspired by the heartfelt stories of cancer recalled by their sponsors, the group was motivated to return. Both striving to make a difference, Chris and Mike joined forces for the fundraising year ahead. Through the process of planning a spring event, they realized that they would be able to accomplish much more for the cancer community if they founded their own not-for-profit organization. They were excited by the opportunities ahead and so they brought the assistance of a board of directors. The team met and with their first goal of $35,000 it all began…
After carefully choosing a name to signify their own groups of supportive friends and family and the dream that someday the foundation would include an extended network of volunteers and donors working toward the same goal, All for Hope was born. The lighthouse logo was later added to represent hope and to remind others to believe in the possibility of a bright future, no matter what cancer challenges they are facing. However, it didn’t take long for the board members to realize that there is much more involved in forming a cancer foundation than just choosing a name and planning a fundraiser!
On May 22, 2005, the day of the first All for Hope Charity Golf Outing, the team truly understood for the first time why building the foundation is so important and well worth all the effort. Yes, it certainly was a chaotic day of fun, but witnessing a sold-out event on one of the most beautiful days of the year brought to life the idea that everyone together really can make a difference! With many thanks to supporters, All for Hope raised $58,000 and was reminded that each person has something valuable to contribute; choosing to attend an event, providing a donation, lending the team a helping hand, spreading information about the cause and adding in a smile or hug. It’s all part of the experience!
Since the early days in 2004, the team has had the honor of raising $474,500 and donating to such places as the LAF, Wellness House, The American Cancer Society and its current partnership with Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (formerly Children’s Memorial Hospital). In 2006, All for Hope felt the need to select an annual cause to be their sole beneficiary. As Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is available to all of Chicagoland’s most critically ill children, regardless of the families’ abilities to pay, the team is very proud to be associated with the hospital’s care. To date All for Hope has donated $393,500 to Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
Today All for Hope looks forward to its annual golf outings and other fantastic fund raising events such as the Wine Gala, Beer Tasting and the Poker Run.The team also has a growing number of volunteers who are becoming more involved in the operation and success of the foundation. All for Hope would like to thank their countless supporters, the businesses who have donated their goods and services, the numerous establishments and individuals who have contacted them through their website, and previous guest speakers. Because of everyone joining together to create this bright future, it really is All for Hope!