Country crooner Vince Gill may have been the headliner for Alliance Data’s 12 annual Special Evening concert, but Charles Gilliam, a graduate from LaunchAbility, the evening’s beneficiary program, stole the spotlight.
The evening began with pre-concert cocktails in the lobby of the Meyerson Symphony Center, followed by award presentations. The Milton P. Levy Jr. Outstanding Volunteer Award went to Dr. Richard Abrams, whom presenter Karen Wald described as the “epitome of a medical volunteer.” Then LaunchAbility board president Brad Leffler bestowed the Alliance Data Corporate Champion Award on senior vice president Brian Angle on behalf of Bank of America.
Event chairs Cecily and Scott Gooch offered kind opening remarks, but it was an awe-inspiring video presentation and Gilliam’s words that really moved supporters. Gilliam walked up to the microphone and loudly and proudly charmed the audience by cracking a few jokes and talking about his success as a Bank of America employee.
After the crowd erupted in applause, emcee Scott Murray switched gears to lead a live auction featuring elaborate sports package and two signed guitars. After wallets were emptied, Gill took the stage for a memorable country-music performance.
He mesmerized music fans with his mad guitar skills and chatted with them in between sets. Gill admitted that his favorite songs are about cheating. “Are you with anyone you shouldn’t be with?” he joked as the spotlight shone on the audience.
LaunchAbility is dedicated to helping children and adults with developmental disabilities grow to become independent. The annual Special Evening series has hosted such greats at Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, Tom Jones and Dionne Warwick.
Spotted on this charitable music scene were honorary co-chairs Beth and Steve McGaw, Jay Hull, Laurie Clark, Marti and Jim Burke, Mary and David Yost, Claire and Dwight Emanuelson, and Ebby Halliday.