Better Makers: Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Brings the Patient Experience to Life at Spark!

Advancing human ability, from a traumatic brain injury to battling multiple sclerosis (MS), the world-class Shirley Ryan AbilityLab continues to reimagine what it means to be a rehabilitation hospital.

As the first “translational” research hospital — ranked No. 1 in adult specialty by U.S. News and World Report since 1991 — Shirley Ryan AbilityLab unites clinicians, scientists, innovators, and technologists with patients 24/7 to continuously work toward new medical approaches and scientific findings.

The nonprofit rehabilitation research hospital is committed to treating all patients, regardless of financial status.

The institution held its annual signature event, Spark!, on May 30 at the Four Seasons Hotel. Drawing 450 guests, the immersive evening brought attendees inside the patient experience with the ballroom transformed by 360-degree views of screens.

Guests dined while being digitally transported to the downtown facility, getting a glimpse inside the hospital, hearing inspiring patient stories, and getting a behind-the-scenes look at groundbreaking research.

Spark! 2019 raised a record-breaking $3.3 million in support of Shirley Ryan AbilityLab’s continued advancements in clinical care and research.

Singer-songwriter Brendan James closed the evening with a moving performance of his hit song, “Nothing for Granted.”

Shirley Ryan AbilityLab: Four Seasons Hotel
The Four Seasons Ballroom transformed into a digital experience.
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab: Dr. Joanne Smith, Pat Ryan, Shirley Ryan
Dr. Joanne Smith, president and CEO of Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, with Pat and Shirley Ryan
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab: Natalie Sacchetti, Menecis Garriga, Brody Roybal, Jennifer Tengelsen
Natalie Sacchetti, Menecis Garriga, Brody Roybal, and Jennifer Tengelsen
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab: Brendan James
Brendan James performs “Nothing for Granted.”
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab: Renée Crown, Lester Crown
Lester and Renée Crown
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab: Daniel Dolan, Mary Dolan, King Harris
Daniel and Mary Dolan, and King Harris
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab: Morris Silverman, Jonathan Jonas, Lori Komisar, David Jonas
Morris Silverman, Jonathan Jonas, Lori Komisar, and David Jonas

Emily Stone earned a degree in journalism from Elon University in North Carolina. Along with writing, Stone has a passion for digital storytelling and photography. Her work has been published in Chicago Athlete Magazine. Stone is a supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Stone is a fluent Spanish speaker who in her free time loves a good dance class.