With their passionate support of benefit boxing event Ringside for Mercy's Sake, Mesirow Financial CEO Richard Price and CBS Chicago anchor Jim Williams fight the good fight for one of Chicago's oldest charities.
Ben Lemon (right) gets in a right cross against Scott Gecas in the final bout of the evening during last year’s Ringside for Mercy’s Sake benefit.
Nearly 130 years after its founding, Mercy Home for Boys & Girls is still dedicated to its mission of helping Chicago kids in crisis, providing services ranging from housing to mentoring and educational programs for more than 600 young men and women each year. The work may be serious, but the nonproft’s annual black-tie event—this month’s Ringside for Mercy’s Sake, a night of amateur boxing—is anything but. As they prepare for the evening’s 23rd year, cochair Richard Price of Mesirow Financial and emcee Jim Williams of CBS Chicago talk about why the night packs such a punch.
This is not your typical black-tie event. Jim Williams: Not by any stretch of the imagination. We like to say it’s the most fun fundraiser in Chicago every year.
What do you enjoy most about it? JW: It is not a stuffy chicken dinner. We have a few remarks, but the emphasis is on having fun. So it’s black tie, it’s in a ballroom, but there’s a regulation boxing ring in the middle of that ballroom. Richard Price: It’s an extraordinary event. [Late Mesirow CEO Jim Tyree] went for so many years and invited me to go, and I kept saying black tie isn’t my thing, I’m not going. And now I wouldn’t miss it.
How has it changed over the years? JW: It started because a couple of guys—Pat Arbor and Jack Sandner—were rivals, one was at the Board of Trade, the other was at the Mercantile Exchange. And they said, “What if we had some amateur fighters from our group take on amateur fighters from your group?” Pat, the former chairman of the Board of Trade, had lived at Mercy Home as a child and was on the board of regents. We had about 700 people there, and it was just a blast. RP: It’s the only one of its kind. It’s fabulous.
Why is Mercy Home’s work so important? RP: There isn’t another organization that does what they do. When you think about caring for children that are coming from damaged environments, they need a lot of support—moral support, social support, financial support. Mercy Home has always been that bastion of help and support that you can’t really find in many places. JW: It is a holistic approach to caring for children. When you walk in that home, anybody you bring there can see the love. These children are treated like family members. We call it the Mercy Home for Boys & Girls—it is a real home. And they’re saving the lives of these kids. Tickets start at $500 for Ringside for Mercy’s Sake, October 17 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown, 540 N. Michigan Ave. For tickets, call 312-738-7560, or visit mercyhome.org/ringside