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Wonder Works Raises More Than $25,000 As It Celebrates First Birthday

Oak Park, IL - August 26, 2004 - On Saturday, June 26, Wonder Works, a Childrens Museum in Oak Park, celebrated its first birthday with a gala fundraiser attended by 150 people. Held at the museum, the event raised more than $25,000 to support the museum, which helps kids and families throughout the area learn through creative exploration.

Thank you to the co-chairs Michael Griffin and Clarice Harris and to the entire Birthday Ball committee, especially Sharon Madura, Kari Hayden, Carrie Van Ermen and Nancy Depke, for making the museums first birthday a big success.

Local restaurants donated wonderful food, including Vivaldi, Winberie, Cucino Paradiso, Caf Le Coq, Fuego Loco, Sparacino, Avenue Ale House, Papaspiros, Einsteins, the Buzz Cafe and Maggianos. Jim Boehestengel of Galerie St. James, the finest auctioneer this side of Paris, led the live auction. For a complete list of contributors, please click here.

Many area businesses contributed to the galas silent auction, including Alliance Paper Products, Ananas, All About Denim, Benjamin Kende Portraits, Dominicks, DOTI (Design of the Interior), Ebert, Edwardos Pizza, Fastframe, Frame Warehouse, Hemmingways Bistro, J.C. Licht, Jewel, Marion Street Grill, My Gym, Oak Park Athletic Club, One Stop Comics, Park District, Paper Source, Radio Flyer, Russells Barbecue, Tim Cozzens Furniture Design, Trattoria Peppino and Vals Halla.

It took seven years to reopen the museum after it lost its lease on Lake Street in 1995. Reopening was the result of hard work and will of board, staff and volunteers, particularly Nevin Hedlund, Dana Connell, Kemmy Metz, Greg Beard, Tamara Faulkner-Beard, Gale Zemel, Elizabeth Smith, John Harris, Chris Kirchenberg, Roma Steinke, Ann Goldman, Wiley Samuels and Abe Thompson. "This group never gave up, even when the bank account sometimes added up to zero," says John Harris, board president. "And once we opened, we endured not one but two floods, a furnace that huffed and puffed and sometimes gave out, and a host of other challenges that seem meaningless as we reach this milestone."

"Most importantly, its about the kids. Its about kids who have families and kids who dont. Its about kids who can run and jump and be normal. And its about kids who struggle to accomplish the simple things in life," says Harris. "At Wonder Works, kids can truly be kids, and we are lucky to be part of a place where creativity rules the day. We are a community resource and a tourist attraction. We are an extension of the classroom and the family room. And we try to play a meaningful part in the wondrous time of our lives called childhood."

Contact: John Harris, 312.345.0651,