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Transforming Schizophrenia Treatment: Casino Night 2016

More than 600 people gathered on Friday, May 6, 2016 to support a new and unique Rush University Medical Center program to better identify early signs of schizophrenia and start treatment before more severe symptoms occur. The Ninth Annual Rush Associates Board Casino Night fundraising event was held at Revel Fulton Market, with proceeds going toward the creation of STEP-UP, standing for Services to Treat, Evaluate, Prevent and Understand Psychosis.

More than $260,000 has been raised through the event.

Guests enjoyed special bourbon tastings from Bulleit, gourmet food, dancing to a DJ and electronic violinist duo, and a cotton candy machine, all in addition to the casino games. The silent auction offered a $4,000, five-course dinner for 10 by Limelight with Cream Wine Company pairings; VIP tickets to The Ellen DeGeneres Show; a $2,500 White Sox luxury game package; a week-long stay in a Breckenridge, Colorado, luxury lodge worth $5,000; and several other dining, travel and exclusive access prizes.

STEP-UP is a new research and treatment program at Rush designed to reduce the symptoms and distress of schizophrenia in the short-term, while also promoting individual and cultural changes that enhance resilience and recovery for subsequent years and future generations.

Christine Hooker, PhD, the Stanley G. Harris Sr. Professor of Psychiatry, who came to Rush from Harvard University, served as the event’s honorary chairman. Hooker, who is overseeing STEP-UP at Rush, described the event as an opportunity to support an innovative, research-based approach toward mental health treatment.

“Among several projects I worked on was a study in which adults who lived with schizophrenia for between 10 and 20 years participated in an hour a day of intensive cognitive training, five days a week for 10 weeks. Neural systems that are impaired by the disease, such as those responsible for cognitive, social and emotional functions, improved because of the training,” Hooker said. “The project that I brought here from Harvard to Rush is to take these initial findings and see whether we can use similar cognitive training as a way to intervene before the symptoms of schizophrenia start and actually prevent the disease from progressing. Casino night provides seed funding for the STEP-UP program so we can develop these efforts even further.”

In addition to the event’s proceeds, Rush Associates Board fundraising throughout the year will support mental health treatment and research at Rush.

About the Rush Associates Board
United by their passion for and commitment to Rush’s mission to provide the best health care, the Rush Associates Board is a group of professionals who serve as emerging corporate and civic leaders in the greater Chicago area. They are accomplished individuals who act as ambassadors for Rush University Medical Center and share a common goal to advance Rush’s patient care, encourage groundbreaking medical research and reach out in service to the surrounding Chicago community. 

For more information about Rush Associates Board, please contact Michelle Boardman at (312) 942-6884 and