CHICAGO On Saturday night, a 10- by 12-foot field tent stood in the Empire Room of the Intercontinental Hotel Chicago, where the U.S. Fund for Unicef's Midwest Region hosted its Message of Hope gala. Along with the tent, a display of Unicef field workers' tools included bed nets, polio vaccines, and a motorcycle, and Kehoe's decor helped underscore the goal of those workers.
“Our whole message and mission is 'Believe in zero,'” said development coordinator Elisabeth Kasforf. “Every day, 24,000 children under the age of five die of completely preventable causes, and we believe that number can and should be zero. So everything we work toward is that zero.” Kasdorf said that she and the planning team gave Kehoe designer Chelsea Polk a “few bullet points,” including the “Believe in zero” tagline, as direction for the look.
Polk said that her goal was to create a “rustic yet elegant environment with a tribal spin,” which would nod to the charity's relief efforts in Haiti and celebrate the completion of its three-year Accelerated Child Survival fund-raising campaign. As of Saturday, the campaign had raised $6.5 million for children in sub-Saharan Africa, and the gala itself raked in $470,0000.
In the entryway, moss elements spelled out numbers—such as 24,000—that are central to Unicef's mission. Round tables in the ballroom bore centerpieces that incorporated prairie grasses and African flowers. Around the centerpieces, candles flickered in glass squares emblazoned with photos of children who have received assistance from the organization.