CHICAGO – The Illinois Branch of the Ukrainian Medical Association of North America (UMANA-Illinois), along with the UMANA Foundation, hosted the traditional annual Banquet and Charity Ball with Presentation of Debutantes on February 16 at Chicago’s historic Palmer House in the heart of the downtown “Loop” area.
The UMANA Chicago Deb Ball has become a destination deb with many out-of-town guests. This year Chicago was blessed with no snowstorms and good weather.
Over 350 participants were seated in the stunningly ornate and elegantly decorated ballroom. The lighted vases arranged by Liza Bandura created a magical background for the event. Over 200 friends and family of the debutantes lined the balcony to view the presentation and later to attended the ball.
The debutantes, on the arms of their parents and family, opened the formal program with a grand entrance into the ballroom. George Wyhinny, Hollywood actor and producer, presented the six accomplished, intelligent and beautiful debutantes to Chicago’s Ukrainian community. The debutantes bowed charmingly and gracefully as they were introduced, along with their proud parents and escorts.
The debutantes hailed from Illinois, Indiana and California. The local debutantes attended the traditional deb luncheon in November 2018, which kicked off the deb preparation. The young ladies and their escorts began practicing their opening waltz months in advance. The beautiful dance program, under the choreography of Adriana Striltschuk-Karawan with help from Tania Kuropas, showcased the choreographer’s creativity. Ms. Striltschuk-Karawan thanked Roxana Pylypczak, her mentor and colleague, who retired this year. Ms. Pylypczak created and taught Chicago debutantes the beautiful program and choreography for close to 40 years.
In their flowing white gowns and holding their pink bouquets, the debutantes danced elegantly and effortlessly to the sounds of Strauss waltzes, first with their fathers and then with their escorts. Kathryn Hrynewycz and Dr. Daria Pachovsky Wang, speaking on behalf of the proud parents, warmly addressed their daughters, wishing them well in their future endeavors both in their Ukrainian and American community lives. They also thanked Dr. Theresa Kuritza and her committee for their tireless work.
The guests danced the night away to the sounds of the east coast band Hrim. Later in the evening, the guests, debutantes and escorts all participated in the anticipated traditional folk dance, the “Kolomyika” for more than a half hour.
Traditionally, debutante balls help raise funds for charity. Proceeds from the UMANA Illinois Ball benefit the UMANA Foundation. Proceeds from this year’s ball will support the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Global Medical Bone Marrow Initiative Program. It will train and build capacity of Ukrainian personnel in bone marrow transplantation (BMT) in Kyiv and Lviv.
“Blood and marrow transplants are almost non-existent in Ukraine,” said Dr. Damiano Rondelli, the director of blood and marrow transplant at the UIC College of Medicine. The funds raised will allow patients to obtain life-saving transplants in their home country at decreased cost. Dr. Rondelli attended the Debutante Ball and said he was impressed with the turnout and enthusiasm shown by all the participants and guests. Readers who wish to support this project may visit www.umana.org and click Donate.