Celebrations continue at Goombay Bash 2012
Lorna Shaw stands in the former Urban Sole storefront with a painted umbrella she donated to the Goombay Bash, an upcoming event to raise money for cancer research. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
If you go
WHEN: 5 p.m. to midnight Aug. 11
WHERE: Grand Ballroom, Navy Pier, Chicago
TICKETS: $150 for gourmet buffet, live music, dancing, auctions, raffle, cash bar
TO ORDER: Call (708) 352-5240, or visit www.GoombayBash.com
TRANSPORTATION: Seats on buses may be reserved for $5 leaving from La Grange and Darien. There are also reduced rates for Navy Pier parking and on accommodations at four Chicago hotels
Updated: September 3, 2012 6:10AM
LA GRANGE — The Goombay Bash to fund cancer research is always a great party for a great cause, but last August presented an added opportunity for one Western Springs family to celebrate, which continues this year.
Bruce Harken, who manages the SERVICE Club pool in Western Springs, was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in August 2010, recalled his daughter Kate Harken.
But after successful treatment, her dad was cancer-free, and the family couldn’t wait to mark the occasion at the 2011 Goombay Bash in the Grand Ballroom of Chicago’s Navy Pier, she said.
“My mom is an international flight attendant, and she surprised our family members and dear friends at the party with fresh flower leis from Hawaii,” Kate Harken said. “They were just gorgeous.”
Family and friends plan to celebrate Bruce Harken’s good health again at this year’s Caribbean-themed gala Aug. 11. His recovery also has inspired his daughter to become a board member for the H Foundation, the La Grange-based group running the fundraiser.
“I wanted to turn the personal journey my dad had been through into something good,” she said. “He’s a terrific success story. Working together, we can do so much more than by ourselves.”
Named after a tropical cocktail blending rum, brandy and fruit juices, the 12th annual Goombay Bash features live auctions, silent auctions, entertainment and a buffet in a colorful tropical paradise. Party-goers trade black ties and formals for flip flops and Hawaiian shirts at the event, in its fifth year at Navy Pier.
“It’s the party of the summer, a magical night,” said Michael LaPidus, owner of Q-BBQ and The Hot Dog Company in La Grange and an H Foundation board member.
“We’re always changing it up at Goombay, and this year, we’re having some interactive entertainment combining music, painting and an auction,” LaPidus said.
An artist will be painting a subject from a different perspective during the evening with audience input, and the artwork later will be auctioned, he said.
LaPidus said items to be auctioned will fit any budget in keeping with organizers’ efforts to keep the evening affordable. Items range from lamps with a starting bid of $10 to vacation packages for thousands of dollars.
“Every year we say we can’t get better, but this year we’ve maxed out on the creativity and uniqueness of the items,” he said.
Kate Harken said friends and businesses she approached to donate items for the auctions, or buy raffle or entrance tickets were very supportive.
“The response has been incredibly favorable because cancer is so personal to so many people. It’s a cause that resonates,” she said. “Because we can demonstrate where our fund raising has gone and the wonderful effect it has in securing grants, it’s much easier for people to donate, and the event is such a blast.”
In 11 years, the Goombay Bash has raised more than $4 million, which has been used as seed money for cancer research projects at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. The projects have, in turn, attracted government or private grants of nearly $30 million for research.
The 2011 event raised nearly $500,000, and “we’re on track from last year and up in a few profit centers as far as donations,” LaPidus said.