By Lindsay Weber
CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake resident Sharon LeCoque read Steve Pemberton’s autobiography, “A Chance in the World,” and was immediately inspired. She bought 10 additional copies and handed them out to friends with one thought, “We’re going to do something with this.”
“It’s something that fell in my lap,” LeCoque said. “It just sort of evolved and after I heard Steve’s story, I knew I had to do something with it. I was so moved and inspired. I was affected. I just couldn’t read the book and just go on with life. Then, through connections with Keaton Simons, it all just started to take shape. I felt very strongly about bringing awareness to this issue.”
Through LeCoque’s drive, and happenstance, Hollywood is coming to Crystal Lake.
Organized by LeCoque, the Lakeside Legacy Foundation and A Chance in the World Foundation will host Giving our Children “A Chance in the World” charity event Saturday at Lakeside Arts Park at the Dole Mansion. Pemberton, actor Eric Roberts and his wife, actress, writer and producer Eliza Roberts, and singer-songwriter Keaton Simons, whose song “Find Us” features clips of the film in the music video, will attend.
Pemberton, a corporate executive, husband and father of three, penned “A Chance in the World,” which chronicles his childhood, growing up an abused and neglected foster child in Massachusetts and how he overcame it all through sheer will to become a successful executive, husband and father.
Pemberton has gone on to be an executive for the likes of Monster.com, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Globoforce.
“It started with me wanting to get the chronology for my family and for our children,” Pemberton said. “They had begun to ask questions on my family in particular. It’s a long story and it was a history I had to go find and I didn’t want them to be in that position. When I wrote the book, I was trying to write this bigger story of us as citizens, as a community, as a country. There are main anchors that impact all of our lives in some way and it’s important to understand how we can rise above.”
The book was adapted for the big screen and released on demand in 2018. Pemberton has a co-producer credit on the film.
“The response to the book was much larger than the degree that I thought it would be after I wrote it, which I admit, I didn’t think was going to be a lot,” Pemberton said. “I turned out to be quite wrong about that. I began to hear from so many different people from different walks of life and their messages were all consistent. In chronicling my life journey, I had also chronicled a part of their journey.
“It awakened me to the common thread and connection we all have. The movie continues what the book hadn’t accomplished. It’s a call to action on the importance on giving a chance in the world. We all have that capacity and ability to give something impactful, helpful and instructive.”
LeCoque said the goal for the event is to bring awareness about what happens in our broken foster system. Foster children in our area often have to be sent outside of McHenry County for a foster home, taking them away from the life they know.
The event will feature a meet-and-greet with Pemberton, Simons and the Robertses, a buffet and open bar, a performance by Simons and a silent auction with some big-ticket items, including a signed Walter Payton Super Bowl commemorative ball and a “Titanic” script signed by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
WGN’s Frank Fontana and Kathy Hart also will attend.
Tickets are on sale at lakesideartspark.org/chance2019 through midnight today. There will be no tickets sold at the door.
Doors open at 4:45 p.m. The event begins at 5 p.m. and goes until 11 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring a children’s book for a drive taking place at the event. Proceeds from this event and the book drive will benefit the McHenry County chapters of Big Brothers Big Sisters, CASA and Lakeside Arts Park at the Dole.