On June 5, the Ambassador Board of the Digestive Health Foundation at Northwestern Medicine hosted the first live event held at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago since the COVID-19 pandemic hit over a year ago. With in-person attendance of 220 and additional supporters participating virtually via livestream, the DHF’s Together on the Terrace: An Evening of Art, Appetizers and Spirits, Al Fresco raised $1.3 million, bringing the total sum raised by DHF since its inception in 2015 to nearly $15 million.

Held outdoors at the museum’s Anne and John Kern Terrace Garden a block from the Magnificent Mile, the event enabled the board to continue vital fundraising in the face of COVID restrictions that cancelled the foundation’s annual gala for the second consecutive year.

The evening featured mixology demonstrations and tastings, wine tasting, live music by the TVK Orchestra, and museum tours as well as silent and live auctions and raffle prizes. Auction highlights included Ryder Cup tickets, a trip to New York City with VIP tickets to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and dinner prepared by Michelin-starred chef Soo Ahn, who will helm the kitchen at the highly anticipated Italian restaurant Adalina scheduled to open on the Gold Coast this month. FOX 32 Chicago’s Sylvia Perez kicked off the event as well as the livestream.

Event proceeds will benefit digestive disease research as well as supporting the DHF Ambassador Board’s commitment to promoting greater equity in access to medical care and education through two projects. They include the new Digestive Health Foundation MCAT Prep Program created in partnership with the I Am Abel Foundation to provide funding, resources and mentoring to help under-represented students prepare for medical school, and the Elizabeth Blackwell Fund for independent female GI researchers in honor of the first U.S. woman to earn a medical degree.

Since inception six years ago, DHF has funded 67 crucial annual grants as well as ongoing research studies including the DHF BioRepository, a blood and tissue bank used for digestive disease research that is one of the few databases of its kind in the world. In addition, the non-profit 501c3 funds two endowments for Digestive Disease Research and Gastrointestinal Surgery, Education, and Research; two advanced specialized physician fellowships; and a Center for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Mathematics in Gastroenterology.

Digestive health disorders range from colorectal and pancreatic cancers to esophageal disorders, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, liver diseases such as hepatitis, and others. The Digestive Health Foundation generates critical resources to advance research that can help transform digestive disease into digestive health for these patients and their families.