Maggie Daley talks at After School Matters gala

September 15, 2010 7:29:09 PM PDT
A lot of Chicago public school children showed off their talents Wednesday night at the After School Matters gala.

After School Matters' founder and chairperson, Chicago's First Lady Maggie Daley, spoke at the gala under way at McCormick Place. She and her husband, Mayor Richard Daley, both celebrated the creative works of Chicago students.

Nearly 2,000 guests attended the gala.

Maggie Daley addressed the retirement of Mayor Daley. In Maggie Daley's words: he's not retiring - he'll always serve the people of Chicago and continue to keep busy.

On teenage violence, Maggie Daley said that After School Matters is a program that gives kids different opportunities. She said she really hopes that in the future, more children will be able to join this program.

After School Matters is the largest teen activity program of its kind in the United States.

She also addressed her health and her fight with breast cancer.

"I'm doing OK. I really am. I'm going to be able to be walking soon, I hope," said Maggie Daley. "With everybody who has cancer is in the same boat I'm in and we take it a day at a time."

Daley was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. On Wednesday, she walked with the aid of a crutch. Her spirits, though, were high, especially when talking about the After School Matters program.

Wednesday night was the annual fundraising gala, which also gives the students a chance to showcase all their work. There are several programs including arts, sports, science, technology, and communications.

The various programs help 20,000 students every year. Ten years ago, only 220 students were involved in the program. Maggie Daley wants all teens to have this opportunity.

"I think that a lot of these youngsters, had [they] been given the opportunity, I think would have enjoyed actually doing something very worthwhile, and that they thought was important work," said Daley. "That's why we need to be able to give them more of those options."

"I honestly think that this program has inspired me to go and do things with my life that I want to do, and it's really taught me that whatever you want to do in life, just to go for it. There's no one stopping you. There are opportunities out there for you and people out there that are willing to support you and help you," said Kenwood Academy senior Matthew Robinson.

After School Matters is a public-private partnership, so raising money Wednesday night was certainly important for the program. Maggie Daley is proud of the After School Matters effort and of the accomplishments of those young people have made.

Chicago students interested in joining the program or checking it out can do so at www.afterschoolmatters.org.


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