As a top executive at NBC, Larry Wert oversees one of the company's largest stations and helps shape direction of the media giant nationally. While that and his family keeps him plenty busy, he always manages to make time for causes close to his heart, like the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois.
"The wishes that get granted for the kids are the biggest driver," Larry said about his continued involvement with Make-A-Wish. "The people and the genuine passion they invest make me proud to participate."
Nearly a decade ago when the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois was looking for ways to grow its signature event, the Wish Ball committee solicited his advice. The event has historically raised a significant amount of funds for the chapter to support wish granting efforts and also helps to boost awareness about the mission. But as the Foundation had tried to reach more children with a wish, there was a need to raise the level of Wish Ball. Through Larry's guidance, Make-A-Wish was able to connect with additional high profile volunteers and celebrities to make Wish Ball a grand success.
A standout moment was when Larry had a hand in making a wish come true for a local child when he helped bring Ellen DeGeneres to Chicago a the featured celebrity for Wish Ball. Wish Child Kenzie was granted her wish to dance with Ellen at the event, giving everyone in attendance the opportunity to watch the magic unfold.
Larry has been involved since 2004, helping the Make-A-Wish Foundation secure such celebrities as Jay Leno, Ellen DeGeneres and Bonnie Hunt as well as arranging for NBC 5's top personalities to emcee the events. Seeing the positive impact on the community, Larry brought on NBC 5 Chicago as a media sponsor of Wish Ball, a natural fit since other NBC personalities were already involved in supporting the Foundation. In appreciation for his dedication and work for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he was awarded the title of Honorary Chair of Wish Ball 2008.
"Being able to work with Larry has meant that we are able to position our events to reach greater mission and financial success," said Stephanie Springs, Chief Executive Officer of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois. "We truly appreciate his generous spirit as we reach out to grant wishes to more children than ever before."
A native of the Chicago area, Larry and his wife Julie are raising four children. Additionally, Larry is involved with a number of charitable causes and serves on the boards of several local non-profits. As a recognized leader, he was tapped by Mayor Daley to serve on Chicago 2016, the city's bid to host the Olympic Games.
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