Saturday, July 26, 2008

Partying With a Purpose: Steppin' In the Name of Breast Cancer Awareness

I have come to the conclusion that Chicagoans are all that--and a bag of chips!
This past Thursday evening I attended a stepper's set downtown in the South Loop on Michigan Avenue. I was chasing down an interview with Howard Hewitt, the R&B vocalist, who was scheduled to make an appearance. To say I was excited at the thought of meeting him is an understatement of the highest order. I was a Shalimar fan and a Howard groupee back in the day. I've seen him perform live at least a half dozen times over the years.
We never met although he sang to me once--years ago during a concert at a small club. We've never met, however.

I wasn't aware that I was going to a stepper's set, so I was wearing my trusty jeans and jean jacket and basically dressed down. I did know that Howard was there as a part of a campaign to encourage women to have annual mammograms through an organization called Anaia's Breast Cancer Awareness Program (Abcap), headed by a delightful gentleman, Kenneth Beford.
I spoke with Kenneth on the phone briefly and explained that I was hunting Howard down for an interview and I wanted to speak with his publicist. Kenneth informed me that Howard would be there and just to come down and hang out.

I came downtown and was very amazed as the event unfolded. I hadn't been to a stepper's set in years. Actually this is a weekly stepper's set hosted by Kenneth. I saw several people that I knew and many folks that I didn't know who have some celebrity status. Among those present were radio personality and steppin empresario, Herb Kent; Casper Slide inventer, Casper; singer, Bobby Hutton; fashion designer, Marquita Kruger; author and former mayoral candidate, Bill Dock Walls; Roger Salter, Charles & Maria Taylor; fashion designer, Gabriel Williams; Ros Adams; and many others. This was an awesome networking opportunity. This set is held every Thursday, 2230 S. Michigan Avenue, (5:30 PM to 11PM) Free food and free admission.

Kenneth shared with the audience how his wife, Anaia had succumbed to Breast Cancer and that he had started the foundation in her name to honor her and to encourage women to get early detection by taking mammograms. Howard Hewitt had been one of her favorite artists. Kenneth contacted him and Howard has been a supporter ever since 2004.

Howard is very personable and down to earth. Women stood in line to sign up for mammograms and to purchase Howard's newest cd. I didn't get to interview him but I got plenty of pics of him interacting with others. I was touched by his sincerity for this cause.
I was happy I attended this party with a purpose. Thanks Kenny B.