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Chicago nonprofit rushes to redirect fundraiser to avoid DNC, Secret Service road restrictions

Chicago nonprofit scrambles to find fundraising venue as DNC party may crash their event
Chicago nonprofit scrambles to find fundraising venue as DNC party may crash their event 02:50

CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago non-profit scrambles to change its fundraising plans after it was revealed that it might be in the area where the Secret Service will be working the upcoming Democratic National Convention.   

The Secret Service stressed that its plans would be released a month before the convention, and CBS 2 has been repeatedly told that the goal is to keep people safe while minimizing disruptions in this area.

Chris Fountain hosts all sorts of soirees at his event venue, Row 24. It's just a block from I-55 and McCormick Place, the largest convention center in the U.S.

"We get mixers, after parties for some of the attendees," Fountain said. 

Fountain's location on the 24th and Michigan might not be so beneficial this August. It's smack in the middle of the U.S. Secret Service's anticipated security perimeter for the Democratic National Convention.

"We had not been thinking about the DNC convention."

Mary Sullivan has been planning the Owl Ride for the Jackson Chance Foundation for the past 10 months.

A critical fundraiser is a bicycling event that starts and ends at Row 24 with a post-ride celebration.

"At first, I didn't really react, and then I thought about it a little bit more, and I was like, 'Oh, we can't have our party.'"

Because being in the Secret Service perimeter will mean road closures, parking restrictions, and security checkpoints.

The feds tell CBS 2 that their rules "could begin days before the convention to allow time for construction build-out near the event."

The Owl Ride is less than 24 hours before the  DNC starts. 

"Now we have to find a new home," Sullivan said. "We are pleading."

It is pleasing because Row 24 donates its space to the Jackson Chance Foundation.

Paying for a different event location would detract from its mission of funding hospital parking for families of critically ill babies.

Co-founder Carrie Meghie knows the struggle.

"When our first credit card statement came, I opened it up, and I called my husband, and I was like, 'we just spent $2,000 just to park,'" Meghie said. 

Fountain will be cycling in the Owl Ride and hopes another venue owner will help the non-profit.

"It was fun, just knowing why we are riding," Fountain said. 

In the meantime, he's warning prospective clients about the expected DNC impact in mid-August. 

"We want to make sure all of our attendees for their event can get here safely and, you know, not be an hour late," Fountain said. 

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