Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cuba fundraiser at Sidetrack nets $25,000

Cuba fundraiser at Sidetrack nets $25,000
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times

The inaugural Havana In Chicago, a four-hour fundraiser for First Hand
Aid, was an overwhelming success.

Organizers were hoping to raise $10,000, but the event generated
$25,000—and all 50 silent auction items were sold.

"We're blown away" by the success of the fundraiser, held at Sidetrack
March 23, said Art Johnston, co-owner of Sidetrack and the event organizer.

About 200 attended the fundraiser, most from the LGBT community.

First Hand Aid delivers much-needed medical supplies and more to Cuba.
Johnston and his longtime partner, Pepe Pena, have gone on multiple
relief trips to Cuba over the past few years, and they are heading back
to Havana on April 3.

"The hallmark of the [LGBT] community is its generosity, its
caring/concern for others. That shined through," at the fundraiser,
Johnston said. "It was a remarkable response. People had a wonderful
time; the energy in [the bar] was amazing."

One of the fundraiser highlights was a trip-to-Cuba auction, including
needed paperwork. That auction started bidding at $2,000, and Alberto
Senior ultimately claimed the trip for $3,200.

"I think everyone had a great time, and we're so appreciative for so
many very generous [donors.] Plus, everyone learned about Cuba and the

The event featured Cuban food from Paladar and Cuban music from Grupo
Zye, winner of the 2012 Jammie Award (Best Jazz Album).

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