Topping Off Celebration

Nineteen months ago, I attended the groundbreak ceremony for the new Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hosptial of Chicago. With my mother by my side, I had the privilege to join politicians, philanthropists, doctors, nurses, and patients as the dream of a new hosptial began to become a reality.

Tonight, with Charlotte, I attended the. hosptial’s “topping off” ceremony. A topping off ceremony occurs when the last beam of a building is hoisted, usually with an evergreen. The ceremony, like a ship’s naming, celebrates a major landmark in the project and thanks the construction workers. The evergreen symbolizes growth and good luck.

Charlotte and I signed the beam, adding our signatures (and my mother’s name) to the thousands of other names–construction workers, donors, politicians, medical professionals–who have made this day possible.
After some snacks (Charlotte ate a chocolate-dipped marshmallow, mini-bratworst, 2 gingerbread men, and a hot cocoa); speeches by politicians, including the indomitable first lady of Chicago Maggie Daley; entertainment by ice skaters and a children’s choir, we thrilled to watch the beam go up the tower.

Charlotte and I had front row seats. I held her up as tears streamed down my face and Charlotte cheered with glee and joy.

In her remarks Ann Lurie (or was it Maggie Daley?), quoted Christopher Reeve’s famous remark, “When you choose hope, anything is possible.” Five years ago, after a devastating prenatal diagnosis, we chose hope. We chose Children’s Memorial Hospital. And you all chose to come along for the ride, crying and cheering along with us. Along with Charlotte and her doctors, you are our heroes. Thank you.

And now for a blatant plug:

The hospital’s bones are up and it’s time to add the flesh and blood. Our capital campaign is still underway–in this economy, fundraising can be a bit slow. In this season of giving, if you can give anything to our critical mission, the bricks and mortars, please consider it. Visit and follow the link “How to be a hero.”

While you’re there, check out the campaign song. Tonight we heard it sung by a famous Chicago gospel singer. Extraordinary!

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