Chicago Culture, Celebrity, Arts & Entertainment
Chicago culture, arts & entertainment with Billy Dec

Browsing all posts tagged with celebrities.

Common Ground: Creating Change Creatively Through the Common Ground Foundation

celebrities, charity, chicago, Fundraiser, General

Hello again! Lareka Renee here, one of the newest additions to Billy Dec‘s intern team at Rockit Ranch. I wanted to share with you about hip hop mogul Common and his Common Ground Foundation’s upcoming event!

Common Ground Foundation Gala & Fundraiser

In the wake of Chicago’s highest murder rates ever amongst its youth, the citizens of this city are hopeful and confident that the circumstances that Chicago’s inner city is facing will significantly improve, and not just solely for the city’s reputation, but for the children who cannot walk to other neighborhoods outside of their own without the fear of not returning. There have been several docu-series created exposing the other realities of Chicago, outside of the wealth and opulence of downtown, realities that mainstream media are not airing. Sometimes it takes native heroes familiar with the city’s crime conditions to offer hope to children who may not see it in their everyday environment.

CommonLonnie Rashid Lynn Jr. – better known as hip hop mogul Common - is bringing hope back to the city of Chicago with the 4th Annual Common Ground Foundation Gala and Fundraiser.

Here’s why this event will be a major step in the right direction for our kids of Chicago: First and foremost, Common Ground (which was founded by the lyricist himself) was created in effort to expose Chicago’s youth to new opportunities through creative artistry. In doing this, the organization is taking these kids off the street and using their idle time constructively. Common Ground offers a youth summer camp as well as mentoring programs covering health, personal finance, music and dance instructional classes, and more.

Secondly, its founder Common was once one of the kids he’s helping. Common grew up on the Southside of Chicago raised by a single mother; he is no stranger to the life that quite a few of these children are living.

Lastly, the event will include and honor major pioneers in the arts industry such veteran actor Danny Glover, professional skateboarder Nyjah Huston, and more, joining a revered company of honorees that includes writer and civil rights activist Maya Angelou.

Magic Johnson and Common

This amazing event will raise money and awareness of the organization and its programs. Taking place on Saturday March 29th at the Chicago Fairmont Hotel, the elite guest will enjoy live performances, networking opportunities, as well as dinner and a silent auction. Artist, athletes, activist, and philanthropist will collectively, encourage, and celebrate the bright futures of the kids of Common Ground.


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Blackhawks in July?! It’s Like Christmas!

blackhawks, celebrities, chicago, Food, Networking, nightlife, Pictures, Press, Radio, restaurants, sports, Video

If you’re a Blackhawks fan and planning on going to the upcoming Blackhawks Convention – like me – then last weekend was like Christmas for you.  Convention passes and welcome letters were sent out to the delight of fans across Chicagoland.  July 20th – 22nd the Hilton Chicago will become Blackhawks central; players & fans will flock to the iconic Chicago hotel for a weekend of hockey in the middle of summer – it’s quite a sight!  This marks the 5th year of the convention and as in years past, it has completely sold out – unless you’re willing to go on StubHub.  It’s no surprise this event is so popular.  I went to my first convention last year and if you’re a fan of the Hawks, it’s something you NEED to go to.

Friday kicks off the festivities with event registration opening at 12pm in the Northeast Hall where fans can pick up their programs for the weekend.  The International Ballroom plays host to the opening ceremonies at 5pm where the team is together for the first time since the end of last season and introduced to fans.  Expect to hear from Blackhawks TV color analyst, Eddie Olczyk – as he’s been the emcee in the past – and Blackhawks Captain, Jonathan Toews.  Also expect appearances from Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook and many more familiar faces!

Saturday starts off nice and early at 9am with various Q-and-A seminars with panels of players and coaches discussing a range of topics.  Once the sun goes down the Blackhawks players and celebrities will judge ‘Blackhawks Idol’ and crown the winner. Sunday wraps up the convention with more Q-and-A sessions beginning at 9am; with everything finishing up at about 1pm.

There will also be various Blackhawks memorabilia vendors as well as a locker room sale where you have the opportunity to buy items from the Blackhawks locker room.  Attendees may also have an opportunity to meet their favorite players, get autographs & have their pictures taken.  It’s an all-around great weekend for Blackhawks fans of all ages and I, for one, am VERY excited for it!  There’s 2 weeks until the convention, but if you’re too excited you can’t handle it, take a look at my pics from last year!  See you all at the Hilton Chicago, I’ll be the one in the Blackhawks t-shirt ;)

-Alex Chwastek

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Best Beach Bash: Volleywood Presented by Barefoot Wine & Bubbly

celebrities, chicago, fashion, Food, General, Music, Networking, nightlife, Pictures, Press, Radio, restaurants, sports

Chicago Sport and Social once again takes over North Avenue Beach on Saturday, July 7th to host the city’s biggest beach party and sand volleyball tournament. More than 5,000 attendees will be transported to the ultimate fantasy beach bash filled with food, drinks, sun, competition and live music.

The largest sand volleyball tournament in the Midwest will kick off the day’s festivities at 8 am with more than 300 teams competing (recreational and competitive levels). Contestants will be battling it out for $5,000 in prizes.

Alongside the tournament is a spring-break style beach party that starts at noon with music by DJ Dante the Don, Too White Crew, DJ Rock City and Havana Brown, best known for her summer hit song with Pit Bull “We Run the Night” performs her favorite tracks as well as a DJ set. Partygoers will spend the day lounging in the sun, cheering on contestants in the volleyball tournament, enjoying Barefoot Wine and Bubbly, icy cold Coors Light Beer and heading over to the stage for the awesome lineup of live music.

General admission tickets are available for $10 and VIP cabanas are also available. To purchase general admission tickets and VIP cabanas or to register for the tournament, click here or call 312.850.8196

-Carolyn Pelissero 

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Move NATO Get Out The Way: A Food Revolution is here to STAY!

chicago, Food, General, restaurants

Chicago had thousands of people ready to start a revolution this weekend, and I’m not just talking about the NATO Summit! Saturday, May 19th was celebrity Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day, a global event that took place in 488 cities around the world!

Whether it was a food festival, cooking class or dinner party, communities gathered together to draw attention to the obesity epidemic and the world’s poor nutrition habits. To participate in my own community, I headed over to the city’s flagship event at Centered Chef a venue for healthy cooking class and nutritional programming on the West Loop. Before the event kicked off, Centered Chef CEO and Founder, Ryan Hutmacher gave me the grand tour of his facility. Along the way we talked about his career as a chef and his growth into a wellness activist. He proved to be the quintessence of how healthy eating can change your life.

Hutmacher said he spent the early part of his culinary career disappointed with the food he was making- it was “healthy” but revolved completely around a calorie-based diet and it wasn’t making him feel good. Now, 50-70 pounds lost and an Iron Man title under his trimmed belt, Hutmacher joins Oliver’s cause as an advocate for understanding what “real” food is.

Did you know that it takes three years for an asparagus crop to be ready after you plant the first seed?! The festivities started off with a “How Well Do You Know Your Veggies?” segment featuring Irv and Shelley’s Fresh Picks. Then turned to chef demonstrations and tastings featuring Hutmacher who created an easy-to-make hummus and carrot salad, Protein Bar making a quinoa veggie wrap and Enlightened Flavors which finished off with a fettucini made of squash and zucchini.

The remainder of the day included appearances by TED talker and founder of Academy of Global Citizenship, Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, Lululemon, Mark Beier of Chicago Fit Club and more! The brains behind the Food Revolution Day, Jamie Oliver, believes if something isn’t done about our food problem, than “Today’s children will be the first generation ever to live shorter than their parents.” So what was great about Saturday was all the young people in the crowd- especially since they were so enthusiastic about being involved in the event- shooting their hands in the air to ask questions and participating as judges in the cooking contest.The event was truly an amazing success- a perfect example of social engagement and inspiring others through action.

To donate to the Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution cause or to jumpstart your revolution, head to:

-Lauren Neuschel

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Super Bowl 2012, red carpet events, celebs, football, concerts, food & fun.. in Indy!

celebrities, sports

Just back from Indy after immersing myself into the Super Bowl whirlwind of crazy celebrity red carpet events, humungous tailgates, top talent concerts, massive crowds of sports super fans & all the best of the best competing not only in football, but showcasing their talents on the biggest most watched stage in the world!!

In case you missed some of the pics, here are some of the most clicked on ones from my Facebook & Twitter that apparently were most appreciated (and a couple surprise extras!)!!!!  As a guest of Gatorade there to “#WinFromWithin” you will see my killer training session w/ celeb trainer Gunnar Peterson (still sore), behind the scenes shots from all the pre/post parties, how I treated one lucky Twitter/Facebook follower to the Superbowl last minute, and of course fun red carpet & party shots w/new & old celeb friends like.. David Arquette, Jessica Szohr, LMFAO, LL Cool JHines Ward & more!

Oh ya, about the football game… it was AMAZING but something was missing… THE BEARS!  Til next year when we will ALL be there!!

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Dempster Family Foundation’s “Casino Night”

baseball, celebrities, charity, chicago, Fundraiser

Ryan Dempster is a starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs and has over thirteen years of MLB experience. He has been with the Cubs for the past eight years! His daughter, Riley, was born in 2009 with the genetic disorder 22q, which prompted him and his wife to start the Dempster Family foundation. The disease is a chromosomal abnormality that causes a very wide range of health issues. Not only does the disease cause developmental issues, but it also is the source of heart defects, autism, and immune system problems. Currently, a cure does not exist and children suffering from the disease require significant medical attention.

I strongly urge you to support the cause. A night filled with mingling with sports celebrities, dining on fabulous food & drinks, gambling, & bidding in a unique auction will be taking place at the Palmer House Hilton on July 20th. Ryan and Jenny Dempster are hosting their second annual Casino Night benefiting the Dempster Family Foundation. The Dempster Family Foundation supports those suffering with 22q11.2 deletion (DiGeorge Syndrome/VCFS). Help raise awareness and support research of the disease by attending this extraordinary event. General Admission, along with “high roller”, tickets are still available through the Foundation’s website:

The Ryan and Jenny Dempster Family Foundation aims to support families with children suffering from 22q. The foundation gives back through increased awareness, monetary grants to charities, and programs. Researching for early detection of the disorder and helping children gain confidence and strength is of utmost importance. Along with supporting research and awareness, the Dempster Foundation helps foster a network for the families affected by the disease. This network allows families to determine the best treatment path for the diagnosed and connect with others enduring the same difficult situation.

-Kaitlin Kelly, Intern


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care for women in chicago & beyond

celebrities, chicago, General, Movie


in honor of international women’s day, “care” (, an organization dedicated to helping women around the world by improving education, health, and economic opportunity, presents “half the sky live” on thursday, march 4 at 7:30pm in select theatres nationwide. this will be a one night interactive movie event inspired by pulitzer prize winning journalists nicolas kristof and sheryl wudunn & new york times bestseller “half the sky” which follows stories of extraordinary women around the world as they struggle to overcome oppression.

the “half the sky” event also features a screening of a short documentary by academy award winner marisa tomei and lisa leone, w/musical appearances & celebrity commentary by india arie, maria bellodiane birch, michael frantic, dr. helene gayle, angelique kidjo, nicholas kristof, sarah, duchess of york and others! 

Thank you to my buddies joe & jen shanahan, maria ponce, anna davlantes, and others,… who turned me on to an amazing opportunity to support, through an invitation to the care chicago women’s initiative event that includes a VIP pre-screening cocktail at webster’s wine bar (1480 w.webster ave.) from 5:00 to 7:15pm, followed by the “half the sky live premier” at webster place theatre (1471 w. webster ave.) from 7:30-9pm. tickets are $50- includes cocktails, appetizer and movie!  donations will go towards care’s education program for girls. to rsvp for event, email – see you there!

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celebrities love chicago & our 2016 olympic bid!


If you follow me on twitter you get to come along for some serious fun behind the scenes craziness… like when I filmed 50+ Celebrity friends about why they love Chicago & why they want to see the olympics in chicago (and the usa in general) in 2016!  If missed it, start following me now as there is way more to come, like when I announce the launch of one of those celebrity interviews for the world to see on the internet each day starting tomorrow, until I arrive in copenhagen on oct. 2nd w/ the olympic committee (& hopefully president obama) for the official announcement of (hopefully) chicago/usa being the home of the 2016 olympics!

You will laugh, cry, think, agree, enjoy,… but what we really need you to do is share it with the world hard & fast so the international olympic committee judging us hears how great we are!  Whether you know it or not, each of you will make the difference- so talk, tell, share, call, spread, email, twitter, facebook, myspace, scream,.. so that everyone all around the world hears these celebrity messages each day!  Starting tomorrow, I will be doing all of that between getting on tv, radio, blogs, streetcorners,… (I’m even throwing out the first pitch at the white sox game weds),… just to help our city/country get the word out!  The videos will be on, on”a Chicago thing” and of course, the chicago 2016 olympic website!  but again, it’s all about you… and how much you tell your friends, and the rest of the world, to watch these celebrities praise Chicago and the united states of america! 
oh, btw – you are all invited to join us for the launch party this thursday night at rockit (22 w hubbard) from 7p-9p….for some food, drink, celeb videos, familiar faces, fun….w/ a $20 donation toward chicago 2016 legacy sports programs for kids through world sports chicago! rsvp at As always, I thank you for your friendship & support… Here we go!  

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