It was just four years ago that Over the Rainbow Association’s Junior Board Member Sarah Simmons was touched by the organization’s Celebration concert. After being invited to the annual event by her vocal instructor Nancy Gustafson (a world-renowned soprano and older sister of one of OTR’s long-time residents, Bobby), Sarah attended the event and felt an instant connection to the cause, which ultimately inspired her to learn more about Over the Rainbow.
“It was remarkable to hear the story for Don and Susan Gustafson and the impact they had already made on housing for the physically disabled” said Simmons. “I attended the concert in 2008 and have returned each year since. I had the honor of singing in the concert in 2010 and now anticipate the concert every year.”
While utilizing her vocal talents to support OTR, she has considered herself thankful to be a part of the non-profit.
“I've had the blessing of getting to know Bobby and the whole Gustafson’s family as well as many of his friends,” added Simmons. “As I get to know them, I become more and more thankful that they each have the opportunity and possibility to live an independent lifestyle. When I visit the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, I think it is amazing the hope OTR brings to so many people; the hope to live independently for the first time, or to resume an independent lifestyle.”
Next up for Simmons is assisting the Over the Rainbow Association with its 23rd annual Celebration benefit gala on December 1st. The event, taking place at Evanston’s Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, will bring Broadway legend Mandy Patinkin and opera superstar Nathan Gunn together for a unique and powerful evening of music and merriment.
Tickets prices for the event are $250 for orchestra seating and post-concert reception, $150 for front balcony seating, and $75 for rear balcony seating. To purchase tickets, please visit http://www.pickstaiger.org/event/evening-mandy-patinkin-nathan-gunn.
More information on the Over the Rainbow Association and its 23rd annual Celebration concert can be found at www.otrassn.org.