The 2022 Digestive Health Foundation Gala raised more than $1.8 million for medical research at the Northwestern Medicine Digestive Health Center to improve quality of life for individuals with digestive disease  and their families. Honoring Olympian, NHL player, coach, broadcaster and colon cancer survivor Eddie Olczyk for his work in promoting early colon cancer screening, the June 4 event at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago brought the amount raised by DHF since its inception in 2015 to nearly $18 million.

The evening featured a moving testimonial by Olczyk and giveaways of his book, Eddie Olcyzk:  Beating the Odds in Hockey and in Life, to each of the more than 400 attendees. Other highlights included a video featuring 11-year-old Grace Bowyer, who lost her mother to colon cancer and is making and selling bracelets to raise money to support research into the disease. Chicago TV and radio personality David Kaplan, who broadcasts on NBC Sports Chicago and ESPN 1000, emceed the event.

Live auction highlights included once-in-a-lifetime experiences with Olczyk and the Chicago Blackhawks, an NCAA Final Four and Championship experience, a private in-home dinner with master sushi chef Kaze Chan, and a VIP experience at the 2022 American Music Awards. Silent auction and raffle items included luxury trips to the British Virgin Islands, Los Cabos, Big Sur, Turks & Caicos, and more. Music was provided by the TVK Orchestra.

Funds raised will be used to support studies by the Northwestern Medicine Digestive Health Center’s world-class physician scientists as well as groundbreaking initiatives including the first-of-its-kind Artificial Intelligence and Mathematics Project, which is improving the diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases; the Digestive Health Foundation BioRepository, a blood and tissue bank used for digestive disease research that is one of a few resources of its kind in the world; and the use of nano-string technology to enable the study of inflammatory and immune cells in various GI diseases. These initiatives are changing the future of digestive care.

One in five people will be diagnosed with digestive health disorders ranging from colorectal and pancreatic cancers to esophageal disorders, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, liver diseases such as hepatitis, and others. Since its inception seven years ago, the Digestive Health Foundation has funded 75 grants aimed at transforming digestive disease into digestive health for patients and their families.