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For Immediate Release 


Joining host Deon Cole and a list of celebrities, the telethon will feature appearances by Zach LaVine and Patrick Kane along with sports legends Horace Grant, Joe Maddon, Ryne Sandberg, Brian Urlacher And other members of the Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs and White Sox 

CHICAGO, IL, May 15, 2020 – The Chicago CEO COVID-19 Coalition announced that the Sweet Home Chicago Telethon will feature a very special appearance by Mike Ditka and the Chicago “Superfans” – Joe Mantegna, George Wendt and Robert Smigel, in a new version of their routine first made famous on Saturday Night Live. The telethon will be broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago on May 16 at 5 pm CDT, in addition to simultaneously streaming on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Founded and led by John Koudounis, CEO of Calamos Investments, the Coalition is uniting Chicago’s business leaders in a humanitarian campaign for COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts to benefit Chicago charities in four critical areas: food; shelter/homelessness; counseling services; and PPE.

The ’85 Bears Steve McMichael, Otis Wilson and Kevin Butler with make appearances, along with sports legends and star athletes from the Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs and White Sox. Some of the great sports names on the show will include Horace Grant, Zach LaVine and Toni Kukoc of the Chicago Bulls; Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks; Paul Konerko of the White Sox; Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg and Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs; and Brian Urlacher of the Bears.

“It is extremely gratifying that our city’s great athletes and sports teams have joined with us in the fight to bring our beloved city back. In addition, NBC Sports Chicago’s support of the Sweet Home Chicago telethon will be instrumental in helping to spread our message to a wide audience within the Chicago community,” Koudounis said.

“We continue to be impressed by the enthusiastic reception our campaign has received from Chicago’s business leaders and our city’s renowned sports stars and celebrities. In this current crisis, everyone is pulling together to provide the help that Chicagoans who are struggling need so urgently,” said John P. Calamos Sr., Calamos Investments Founder, Chairman and Global Chief Investment Officer.

In addition to sports stars, Sweet Home Chicago will feature appearances by Chicago’s very own entertainers, comedians and musicians. The musical lineup includes performances by Common, Jeff Tweedy, Chicago, Jamila Woods, and The O’My’s with Kevin Coval and the Chicago Children’s Choir. Bob Odenkirk, Buddy Guy, D. B. Sweeney, Jenny McCarthy, Donnie Wahlberg, Vic Menza, Billy Zane and other celebrities will make appearances. The telethon will be hosted by Deon Cole, star of the TV shows black-ish and grown-ish, and Emmy-nominated writer of the Conan O’Brien show.

Alexander Pissios, President of Cinespace Chicago Studios, a Founding Circle member of the Chicago CEO-Covid-19 Coalition, said, “We are thrilled to be a part of the Coalition and to support the city of Chicago and its residents in need. It has been tremendously encouraging to see the business leaders, celebrities and athletes of Chicago all come together in this campaign,”

“Throughout history, Chicagoans have demonstrated an incredible ability to rise up together during hard times, and today is no different,” said Bob Oros, CEO of Hightower Advisors, a Founding Circle member of the Chicago CEO-Covid-19 Coalition. “We are proud to support the Coalition as it rallies the community to help our friends and neighbors who are struggling in this unprecedented health and economic crisis.”

Wintrust Financial, Cinespace Chicago Studios and Hightower Advisors have joined Calamos Investments as Founding Circle members, the Coalition’s highest sponsorship level. Additional benefactors and sponsors joining Calamos Investments include GCM Grosvenor, Northern Trust, Madison Dearborn Partners, Mesirow Financial, Astor Investment Management, and PNC, among others.

Chicago charities to receive the donations raised are: the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund; Greater Chicago Food Depository; the Salvation Army Metropolitan Division; The Night Ministry; Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Chicago; Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago; Jewish United Fund; Metropolitan Family Services; the 100 Club of Chicago; and Howard Brown Health.

For more information or to donate, log on to or donate through the Coalition partnership with GoFundMe

About the Chicago CEO Covid-19 Coalition The Chicago CEO Covid-19 Coalition is uniting local business leaders for humanitarian relief and recovery in our community, now and in the months to come. As the pandemic rages in our city, there are immediate needs for first responders, for food and shelter, and for urgent assistance to those who are struggling because of the loss of jobs and income. The crisis won’t be over once Covid-19 subsides, and the effects on our city will be deep and far-reaching. We are bringing together the C-suite of leading local companies to marshal resources for the relief that Chicago desperately needs today, and for essential and ongoing recovery in the tomorrows ahead. John Koudounis, CEO of Calamos Investments, is leading the Coalition initiative as founding member and lead sponsor.

Contact: Michelle Manoff/Caroline Kropke Rubenstein Public Relations