Great Gateway red carpet reflections with cancer research heroes, plus Foster, Cetera, Bolton and Jepsen

Great Gateway Photos by Andy Argyrakis

The stars were out in full force Saturday night at the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier in Chicago for “The Great Gateway: 25 Years Of Illuminating The Way To Cures.” Not only did the annual gala supporting the non-profit organization Gateway For Cancer Research raise $4.1 million to support its progressive and transformational research, but those who donned their most stylish Roaring 20’s-inspired fashions were also treated to a massive concert.

Billed as David Foster & Friends, the performance featured that very 16-time Grammy Award-winning producer, plus a superstar list of friends including Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Peter Cetera, 75 million album seller Michael Bolton, “Call Me Maybe” hit maker Carly Rae Jepsen and classical crossover favorites The Tenors. Chicago Concert Reviews was right alongside all the illustrious activists and entertainers on the red carpet to get their take on everything from the evening’s worthwhile goals to how music is a meaningful component in patients’ healing process.

Great GatewayWhat are your general goals for this evening?

Teresa Hall Bartels (President, Gateway for Cancer Research): We want to raise a lot of money and our goal is five million dollars. I’m hopeful, but we’ve never raised that much in the past, so it’s gonna be a real challenge. I think we’ll inspire people tonight with these stories, especially of our [Tumor Paint-supported brain surgery] patient [Hunter] and the [Coffman] family. He’s not even three-years-old, but he’s an amazing kid and his parents are incredible.

Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson (Cancer Treatment Centers Of America Chairman, Functional Medicine): We said “guys, let’s bring an amazing concert to Chicago in support of cancer research.” One in three people are affected. There are so many wonderful causes and people suffering through many things, but there’s such a volume [with cancer] given that it touches everyone around you. So we thought “what better thing to do than to truly bring a David Foster-level gala to Chicago?”

Richard J Stephenson (Founder of Gateway For Cancer Research and Cancer Treatment Centers Of America): David’s a personal friend of ours. Put your seat back up, tray table up all the way, tighten your seat beats and David Foster will rock you for hours!

What got you involved in this cause? Why has this touched you so much?

David Foster: I’m directly involved because of Dr. Stacie and Richard Stephenson. These two are just out there battling everyday and he is determined to bring this beast to its knees and I think he’s gonna do it. I mean he is so positive. He’s got the money, he’s got the resources, he’s got the cancer treatment centers and I think he’s gonna do it. So I’m just hooking my sail to him and hanging on for dear life and I’m happy to be here. And I love this city too, so it’s never hard to come to Chicago.

What has it been like working with David Foster thus far throughout your career?

Victor Micallef (The Tenors): Well David’s been there from the beginning. He’s always been a mentor for us, and when we first got the call to be a part of the David Foster & Friends Tour [in 2009], we were so blown away and were beside ourselves. You’re looking at a multi-Grammy Award winner, he’s an icon in the music industry, he’s a pleasure to work with and a really funny guy. He’ll be cracking the jokes tonight for sure, and whenever you’re on stage with him, you always learn something. It’s been a number of performances with David and he never ceases to amaze me.

Great GatewaySo many of your songs have been a source of inspiration, whether to cancer survivors or people going through difficult times in general. What ones stand out most from your repertoire?

Peter Cetera: I think you just said it right there. So many of my songs mean so much to so many people and I get letters all the time about this song [or that song]- “You’re The Inspiration” [from 1984’s “Chicago 17,” co-written with David Foster] being instrumental in that. I think music is the best healer there is.

Michael Bolton: I’ll tell you a couple of them. There’s a song I wrote with Diane Warren and Desmond Child called “In The Arms Of Love” in ‘91 [that appeared on 1993’s “The One Thing”]. A lot of people have used that for their theme song. But Diane Warren also wrote a song that I demanded that she hold for me and it’s called “When I’m Back On My Feet Again” [from 1989’s “Soul Provider”]. Those would be the two.

To what extent do you feel like you’re music’s contributed to being a part of someone’s healing process?

Carly Rae Jepsen: I mean I hope it has. Any time that a fan writes a note and says something about the feeling of connection and not being as alone in something that they’ve gone through emotionally, I always feel much more purposeful than I would normally. I hope that I have helped and I continue to hope I can help.

Click here for more red carpet photos from The Great Gateway at the Aon Grand Ballroom At Navy Pier.

For additional information on Gateway For Cancer Research and David Foster & Friends, visit and