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Gay Games VII Gala: '100 Champions'
by Ross Forman
2006-04-19

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Gay Games VII is bringing to town national and international athletes and community leaders for a weekend of '100 Champions' events, including a gala April 22 and a Breakfast With Champions April 23, both at Soldier Field. See www.gaygameschicago.org for details.

Pictured #1 Mary Carillo of HBO and recent Winter Olympics sports coverage, will be honored for her honest portrayal of GLBT athletes. #2 The Nubians women's softball team will be honored. #3 James Hormel ( right ) , former U.S. Ambassador, will also be in town to be among the Champions. #4 Andrea Zimbardi fought back against bias at her school, and she is among the Gay Games VII 100 Champions this weekend. # 5 German cyclist Petra Roessner will also be honored for her world-champion accomplishments. # 6 Martje Hoekmeijer of the Dutch National Team, # 7 former NFL pros Esera Tuaolo, # 8 Dave Kopay, # 9 Roy Simmons, #10 Leigh-Ann Naidoo of the South African beach volleyball Olympic team in Athens, #11 Paul Holm ( left ) will accept a posthumous award for his partner, rugby player Mark Bingham ( right ) , a hero of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

There will be former professional football players, numerous Olympic medallists and NCAA champions. There will be top inline skaters, gifted gymnasts, world-class equestrians and top-level snowboarders.

The Night of 100 Champions on April 22 at Soldier Field is an awards event and fundraiser for Gay Games VII, not to mention a Who's Who of high-profile sports and cultural legends, all of whom will be honored for their contributions and achievements.

Olympic gold medallist Greg Louganis will serve as the co-host. He will be joined among the honored guests by Sara Waddell Lewinstein, Graham Ackerman, Matthew Cusick, David Kopay, Ryan Miller, Roy Simmons, Esera Tuaolo, Leigh-Ann Naidoo, Saskia Webber and others from the sports world.

Former U.S. Ambassador James Hormel will also be honored.

Presenters at the event also will posthumously recognize Dr. Tom Waddell, the 1968 Olympic decathlete and co-founder of the Games; and Mark Bingham, a rugby player killed in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

The Night of 100 Champions will recognize members of the media, such as Mary Carillo, Marcellas Reynolds, LeeAnn Trotter and Robin Robinson; politicians such as Rep. Sara Feigenholtz and Ald. Tom Tunney; and corporations, business leaders, sports organizations and numerous Chicago sports and community leaders such as Michael Leppen and Art Johnston.

'The Night of 100 Champions was created as the signature event for the Gay Games. It was designed to be a precursor to what is yet to come,' said Jeffrey Ortmann, the event's producer. 'This event is going to be phenomenal.'

The event is bringing together celebrities from across the country and truly around the world. Case in point, South African Olympic beach volleyball player Leigh-Ann Naidoo. 'This event will celebrate what individuals and groups have done to move forward, in small and large ways, and help the community,' Ortmann said. 'This event is about people who see and believe in, and help further, the ideals of being a completely open society. We want to celebrate, embrace and thank people from a wide-variety of sports and cultures.'

Ortmann, 51, who was born and raised in Chicago and now lives in Rogers Park, was the producing director at Wisdom Bridge Theatre for 17 years. He also was the co-founder of Centre East in Skokie and is now an arts and management consultant.

'When I saw the Gay Games were going to be Chicago, I responded for different needs that they had,' he said. 'I love our city. I'm proud of our arts, our sports, our architecture and our openness. I've lived in many other places, such as the South and New England, but no where is as open and welcoming as we were here in Chicago.

'This event is happening because of many people coming together to create this event, not just one or two people. Six months ago, this was a blank piece of paper. Now, that piece of paper is loaded with an amazing evening.'

Tickets for the awards ceremony, featuring Broadway singer Billy Porter, are $75. Tickets for the Breakfast With Champions on April 23 are $65. A 100 Champions package for both events is only $125. VIP packages are also available. Both events are at Soldier Field's Cadillac Club.

There are also two pre-events on Friday, April 21. The first is a benefit for women's soccer teams, featuring U.S. Women's World Cup goalie Saskia Webber, at T's bar, 5025 N. Clark, 5:30 p.m., $10 donation. The second is a free reception at the bar @mosphere, 7-9 p.m., 5355 N. Clark. Male dancers start at 10 p.m. The local and national champions will be invited to both events, if they are in town prior to the awards.

See www.gaygameschicago.org for a schedule of the weekend's events.

'We're bringing people together from all over the country and all over the world in this advanced celebration, sort of a dress rehearsal for the Games,' Ortmann said. 'This is the first huge event for the Games.'

______

Among those being honored at the April 22-23 Champions weekend are the below. See the Web site www.gaygameschicago.org for info.

Sports Legends

— Greg Louganis, Olympic Gold Medalist Diver, Author

— Sara Waddell Lewinstein, Co-founder of the Gay Games

— Graham Ackerman, Gymnast, won two NCAA titles in 2004

— Ryan Allen Carrillo, U.S. Inline Skating

— Matthew Cusick, Gymnast, sued Cirque de Soleil

— Jim Graham, World-class Equestrian

— Martje Hoekmeijer, Dutch National Team Sprinter

— B. Birgit Koebke and Kendall French for fighting for equal access at golf clubs

— David Kopay, Former NFL Running Back, Author

— Ryan Miller, U.S. Snowboarder

— Leigh-Ann Naidoo, South African Olympic Beach Volleyball Player

— Candi Orsini, Top Women's Rugby Player

— Petra Roessner, German Olympic Gold Medalist Cyclist

— Roy 'Sugar Bear' Simmons, Former NFL Offensive Lineman, Author

— Esera Tuaolo, Former NFL Defensive Lineman, Author

— Saskia Webber, Former U.S. Women's World Cup and Olympic Soccer Goalie

— Courtney Yamada, U.S. Women's Winter Olympics, alternate, skeleton, 2006

— Andrea Zimbardi, Softball Player, Sued college for discrimination on team

Posthumous

— Dr. Tom Waddell, U.S. Olympic decathlete 1968, co-founded Gay Games.

— Mark Bingham, Rugby Player who died in 9-11. Accepted by partner Paul Holm.

Media

— Mary Carillo, Author, Sports Commentator, and Former Tennis Player

— LZ Granderson, ESPN Magazine Editor

— Jim Provenzano, Author, PINS and Syndicated Columnist

— Marcellas Reynolds, Model, Actor, BET TV series Remixed and Big Brother 3

— Robin Robinson, Fox Chicago News

— Art 'Chat Daddy' Sims, Chicago Defender

— LeeAnn Trotter, NBC TV

— Patricia Nell Warren, Author, The Front Runner

Organizations

— Human Rights Campaign

— Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund

— National Center for Lesbian Rights

— Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Council of Northern Illinois

Politicians

— Representative Ken Dunkin

— State Representative Sara Feigenholtz

— Representative Larry McKeon

— Treasurer Judy Rice

— Alderman Helen Shiller

— Alderman Tom Tunney

Corporate

— Chicago Cubs

— GlaxoSmithKline

— McKnight, Kurland Baccelli

— PlanetOut

— Walgreens

Business Leaders

— Gregory J. Robbins, Attorney

— Kevin P. O'Brien, Attorney

— Philip P. Burgess, Walgreens

— Mike R. Lufrano, Chicago Cubs

Culture

— About Face Theatre

— Toni Armstrong Jr., Publisher and Musician

— David Lee Csicsko, Artist

— Randy Duncan, Choreographer

— Keith Elliott, Choreographer

— Joel Hall, Choreographer

— The Hearty Boys: Steve McDonagh and Dan Smith, Food Network Stars, Restaurant Owners

— Patricia McCombs, Promoter

— Yvonne Zipter, Author

Sports & Community Leaders

— Former Ambassador james Hormel

— Ava Allen, Sports Support

— Jim Flint, Sports Support

— Jeffrey Grinspoon and Jon Foley, Philanthropist

— Walt Gary and the Crystal Lake Rowing Club

— David Gassman, Sports Support

— Peg Grey, Sports Legend

— Art Johnston, Sports Support

— Michael A. Leppen, Philanthropist

— Chuck Renslow, Sports Support

— Raymond Rodgers, Deaf Communication by Innovation

— Linda Turner, Firefighter

— Dick Uyvari and Joseph La Pat, Philanthropists

Sports Organizations

— 9—to-12 League

— Chicago Force Pro Women's Football Team

— Chicago Gay Hockey Association

— Chicago MSA

— Frontrunners/Frontwalkers Chicago

— Lincoln Park Lagooners

— Nubians Women's Softball Team

— Team Chicago

— Team San Francisco

— Windy City Athletic Association

— Women's Sports Association

— Women's Sports Foundation

Not attending, but accepting:

— Mayor Richard M. Daley

— Billie Jean King, Tennis Legend

— Billy Bean, Former Pro Baseball Player

— Frank Deford, Author, National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall-of-Fame

— Rudy Galindo, U.S. Figure Skating Champion

— Dave Pallone, Former Pro Baseball Umpire

— Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel

— Mark Saxenmeyer, Fox News reporter in Chicago

— Ji Wallace, Australian Olympic Medalist Trampolinist


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