Illinois Poker Tournament Shows Winning Hand

May 15, 2007

Illinois Poker Tournament
After much hard work, co-chair Mike Balkin relaxed and enjoyed a few friendly card games with friends.

It had the glitz. It had the glamour. It even had the celebrities and the showgirls. The atmosphere at the Greater Illinois Chapter’s Horseshoe Casino’s Texas Hold ’Em Poker Tournament, presented by the Larry Roesch Family Auto Group, was “pure Vegas,” complete with professional dealers from the Horseshoe Casino.

On April 21, more than 500 guests came ready to place their bets and raise money for the CF Foundation. Three hundred people took part in the sold-out Texas Hold ’Em poker tournament, including movie critic Richard Roeper, while others tried their luck at blackjack, craps and roulette.

In between hands, another competition took hold of the crowd—the highly anticipated live auction, emceed by CF father and committee member Mike Kolassa. Guests tried to outbid one another to win incredible auction items, including a party for 20 on the Horseshoe Casino yacht and trips to Cabo San Lucas and St. Maarten. Chicago Bulls tickets, plasma televisions and autographed sports memorabilia were the hot-ticket prizes during the silent auction.

Kolassa later shared the stage with 18-year-old Alex Service, whose brother Kevin has CF. During his Bid for a Cure speech, Alex spoke about how cystic fibrosis affected his entire family. He remembered feeling helpless when Kevin was sick in the hospital and as he went through his daily therapy routine.

With tears in his eyes, Kolassa thanked Alex for his beautiful speech and asked the audience for their donations to help find a cure for not only Kevin but Kolassa’s own children, Will and his unborn baby girl, who was just diagnosed with the disease. Moved by Kolassa’s plea, the crowd responded and gave more than $87,000 during the Bid for a Cure.

Thanks to the leadership of co-chairs Mike Balkin and Dan Roesch, the Horseshoe Casino’s Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament raised $350,000. Their success was not possible without the help of Chris Walsh, Angela Wise, Matt Schuman, Kevin Blake, Rosalyn Popham, Pascal O’Reilly, Ed Donnelley, Laura Dorn, Mike Kolassa, Kathy Lieberman and Todd Weber.

In addition, a special thank you goes to all the corporate sponsors whose monetary contributions were over $190,000: Horseshoe Casino, Larry Roesch Family Auto Group, Roth Capital Partners, UBS Investment Bank, Indeck Energy Services, Magnetar Capital LLC, WMS, William Blair & Co., Merrill Lynch, Lehman Bros., Friedman Billings, Ramsey & Co., and many others!