The ball was established in 1997 when donors Jim Ford and Len Partyka chaired Marklund’s first-ever black tie gala. The event was held at the Shedd Aquarium and net $50,000, a great accomplishment for a first-year event! The ball immediately outgrew the Shedd space the following year and has moved to many venues since then, including the Field Museum, Union Station, Navy Pier, and Marriott hotels.

Since its inception, the ball has raised more than $8,456,129 in net proceeds, which has supported Marklund’s general operating and endowment funds.

Net raised in 1997
$50,000 with 313 guests

Net raised in 2020
$885,000 with 614 guests

Total Net Proceeds Raised
in 25 years: 
$8,456,129

In Memory of our
Top Hat Ball
Founder,
the late
Len Partyka.
1945-2020

His vision started it all!

Looking Back at the Top Hat Ball…

The Themes
Mardi Gras- first theme started in 2008
Red–Valentine’s Day Celebration- 2009
Chinese New Year- 2010
Hollywood – 2011
Soiree- 2012
Celebrate Chicago- 2013
African Adventure- 2014
An Evening Along the Nile- 2015
A Knight in Camelot- 2016
The Roaring 20’s Gatsby Ball- 2017
Escape to Treasure Island- 2018
Havana Nights- 2019
Vintage Circus, An Evening Under the Big Top- 2020

The Venues
Shedd Aquarium
The Field Museum
Union Station
Navy Pier
Marriott Magnificent Mile

Our Event Chairs
Jim & Lynn Armbruster
Greg Osko & Joel Thompson
Kate McCracken & Randy Lindenberg
Carol & Mike Donahue
Karen Golden
Binna & Bud Porter
Catie & Max Schmidt

“FRIEND OF THE YEAR” Recipients
2020 –  Becky and John Duffey
2019 —David Pierro
2018 — Jeanne and George Webster
2017 — Aon
2016 — Karen J. Golden
2015 — The Foglia Family Foundation
2014 — Bud and Jim Porter
2013 — Carol and Mike Donahue
2012 — Andrea Billhardt
2011 — Gary, Jean & Beth Lederer
2010 — George and Pam Rion
2009 — Greg Osko
2008 — Jim and Lynn Armbruster
2007 — Joel Thompson
2006 — Robert Paddock/Paddock Publications
2005 — Bruce Jensen and Gail Ludewig/Total Works
2004 — Kevin Acker/West Suburban Bank
2003 — Senator James “Pate” Philip
2002 — Everett Van Der Molen
2001 — Congressman Henry Hyde
2000 — Robert Bernard
1999 — Dennis Langley and Peter Cyrus
1999 — Senator Steven J. Rauschenberger
1998 — Robert Smetana
1998 — Gwendolyn S. Henry
1997 — Father John Guiney
1996 — James D. Anderson
1995 — Jean Jordan
1994 — Jim Ford
1993 — Dennis Zimmerman
1992 — Michael Brenan
1991 — Richard Theriault
1990 — Gale Sayers
1989 — John P. Frazee
1988 — Birger Nyborg
1987 — Paul Greening
1986 — Thomas O. Myers, Jr.
1985 — Doris Whitney
1984 — Erhardt Weidmann
1983 — Richard Rathman
1982 — Edwin Deicke
1981 — Hiriam Sibley

For information, contact Jeannine Zupo at
jzupo@marklund.org or call (630) 593-5445.

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2020

 See the party in action at Chris Guillen’s LINK TO PHOTOS…

Photo Gallery

Top Hat Ball 2016
Top Hat Ball 2017
Top Hat Ball 2018
Top Hat Ball 2019