Loretto Hospital Foundation celebrated its 2nd Spirit of Achievement Award Dinner at the Hilton Chicago Hotel March 1. This year's honoree was Chicago native and radio broadcaster Abe Thompson.
The foundation's stated mission is "to honor the outstanding accomplishments of an individual who has demonstrated exceptional commitment and leadership in both his/her professional and personal life to building a safer, healthier and stronger community. This individual serves as a role model for Loretto Hospital's audience of patients, community residents, employees and supporters in the Chicagoland area whose goal is to pursue ways of improving the quality of health care options."
The first Spirit of Achievement award last year went to attorney James D. Montgomery. There now is a James D. Montgomery Men's Health Program at Loretto Hospital. Montgomery, a partner with well-known attorney Johnnie Cochran, is also former corporation counsel for the City of Chicago.
Loretto's evening was filled to capacity with many of the city's movers and shakers, among them, Ebony magazine CEO Linda Johnson-Rice, WGN's Merri Dee, Chicago Fire Chief Cortez Trotter, Westside NAACP President Vera Davis, Loop jeweler Ed Ford, Tom Burrell, CPS Board President Michael Scott, Pauline Montgomery, and Diane Carr. Mistress of ceremonies for the event was Chicago Sun-Times columnist Stella Foster. The national anthems (including the Black Anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing") were led by Fox News TV personality Sheila White. Invocation was by Abe and Launa Thompson's pastor, Bishop Arthur Brazier (Apostolic Church of God) and greetings were delivered by Foundation Chairman Chauncey Stroud and Loretto Hospital President/CEO Steve Drucker.
Festivities began with a video presentation of Loretto Hospital's achievements, with many on-camera interviews featuring people like Vera Davis and the late Launa Thompson for whom the hospital has named a wingâ€"the "Launa Thompson Women's Health Pavilion."
This year's honoree, Abe Thompson, was introduced by last year's honoree. Thompson is one of Chicago's wonderful spirits, a man apparently without enemies. Seldom do you see honorees at these functions making it a point to greet and visit every table in such a large setting, but Thompson did just that. He was gracious and personable with a big smile for everyone.
Thompson is a radio entrepreneur, author, motivational speaker, educator and president and CEO of Partnership Radio, Inc. His wife Launa Thompson passed away after a short illness last June 20 at the age of 52. Launa was general manager of Clear Channel's local stations, WGCI-AM/FM and WVAZ-FM, and was voted number nine last year among Chicago's 100 top women. When Stella Foster reflected on her close friend, Launa, she had to regain her composure because the loss is still very "raw" and deeply felt by many of her friends and family.
Abe said, after learning he was to be the 2nd Spirit of Achievement honoree, "I don't feel like I've done anything to deserve this recognition, but I truly believe that people, especially those without adequate resources, deserve access to receive quality health care services." Thompson designated that contributions in memory of Launa be made to the Loretto Hospital Foundation.
The award was presentated by Chicago's legendary radio personalities, Herb Kent, "The Cool Gent," and Doug Banks. In accepting his award, Thompson said, "Life is living fully everyday. Life has this 'if'â€"if only, if only. Love as if you've never been hurt. I'm so glad you gave me my flowers while I'm alive. If you've got friends, you're never hungry. You could be dead broke, but if you got friends, then you are feeling Launa's legacy." Abe had his 11-year-old son Phoenix stand, as well as his and Launa's mothers. A friend from London, who had flown in for this special evening, was also acknowledged. A copy of his book, My Thoughts, Your Journal, Our Book, was given to everyone attending.