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For Immediate Release


Joining host Deon Cole and Chicago sports stars, the telethon will feature appearances by Bob Odenkirk, Buddy Guy, D.B. Sweeney, Jenny McCarthy, Donny Wahlberg, Vic Mensa, and Billy Zane Mike Ditka and the Chicago “Superfans,” Joe Mantegna, George Wendt and Robert Smigel, make a special appearance.


CHICAGO, IL, May 15, 2020 – The Chicago CEO COVID-19 Coalition announced that the Sweet Home Chicago Telethon will feature performances from Chicago’s very own musicians, with the lineup including Common, Jeff Tweedy, the classic rock band Chicago, Jamila Woods, the O’My’s with Kevin Coval and the Chicago Children’s Choir. 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.

Chicago celebrities making appearances on the show include Bob Odenkirk, Buddy Guy, D.B. Sweeney, Jenny McCarthy, Donny Wahlberg, Vic Mensa and Billy Zane. Mike Ditka and the Chicago “Superfans,” Joe Mantegna, George Wendt and Robert Smigel, will make a special appearance, performing an update of their routine first made famous on Saturday Night Live.

Sweet Home Chicago will also feature sports legends and star athletes from the Chicago Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs and White Sox. The ’85 Bears Steve McMichael, Otis Wilson and Kevin Butler will make appearances, along with great sports names including 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. The show 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. Sweet Home Chicago will also shine a much-deserved spotlight on the many local heroes who are making a difference.

“Chicago’s very own musicians, celebrities and athletes have all come together with the city’s business leaders and their companies for this great cause. Everyone has rallied in support of our beloved city to assist our residents who are struggling in the COVID-19 crisis. It is truly a campaign for Chicago, by Chicago,” Koudounis said.

Joining with Calamos Investments as Founding Circle members of the Coalition, the highest sponsorship level, are Wintrust Financial, Cinespace Chicago Studios and Hightower Advisors. Additional benefactors and sponsors joining Calamos Investments include GCM Grosvenor, Northern Trust, Madison Dearborn Partners, Mesirow Financial, Astor Investment Management, PNC and UBS, 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.


Michelle Manoff/Caroline Kropke

Rubenstein Public Relations