Wednesday, October 21, 2015


The 800 guests at the Fairmont Hotel were restless when Richard Price took the stage to accept his honors from the Weizmann Institute of Science, a research university in Israel supported by numerous Chicago business executives.
The crowd already had sat through a Q&A panel of scientists talking about the Israel-based organization's work—all while the Cubs game was being broadcast from New York.
Then Price, chairman and CEO of Chicago-based Mesirow Financial Holdings, began to speak. His voice shook with emotion as he explained why he decided to accept Weizmann's recognition for his support. The guests were rapt.
It began with his step-son, Price said. He read from notes written by his wife, Linda, that explained their son's battle with schizophrenia. He seemed like any other boy who became a "sullen pre-teen and withdrawn young man." Now 31, their "intelligent and funny" son has struggled for more than a decade with the disease, Price said.
He learned of Weizmann, he told the crowd, from Brian Price, another son and the chief operating officer of global markets and investment banking at Mesirow. The organization studies the mind and the causes of mental illness, among other medical issues.
The crowd erupted in a standing ovation after Price shared his story.
The event raised more than $1.8 million, including a $25,000 donation made as a matching grant from the Chicago Community Trust and Chicago Sun-Times Foundation. It will help establish a scholarship for brain research at Weizmann in Price's name.
The evening's program offered some humor, too.
When Mayor Rahm Emanuel took the stage to congratulate Price, he said, “I love you, Richard, and I love Weizmann Institute, but I'd rather be watching the Cubs. I mean, if they hit a big home run and I'm asked about it, I'll have to say, 'I was sitting by Linda and Richard. It was a great night!' "
Other attendees included new Apple board member James Bell, Mesirow Executive Vice President Les Coney, Friedman Properties CEO Al Friedman, McPier CEO Lori Healey,Hatch Beauty Chairman Christie Hefner, former McDonald's CEO Don Thompson, 1871 CEO Howard Tullman, James Tyree Foundation board Chairman Eve Tyree and U.S. Equities Realty CEO Bob Wislow.

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