This July, leading middle market dealmakers will tee off at the Middle Market Open Tournament, raising nearly $6 million since the event’s inauguration in 2005 to support the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois. With Bradley Schmarak at the helm, this day of first-rate golf is sure to be a success
“The Middle Market Open is a great example of the way Chicago’s business and civic leaders have come forward to improve our communities and the lives of their residents,” shares Bradley Schmarak, co-head of Reed Smith’s global private equity practice, now in his third year of chairing this unparalleled day of golf, networking, and philanthropy.
In 2005, Chicago investment banker Scott Lang had the idea for a golf tournament focusing on the private equity community to benefit the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois (NKFI), and the Middle Market Open was born: “Chicago has an entire ecosystem developed around private equity,” Schmarak explains.
This year’s 14th annual tournament is expecting to host 450 golfers from over 200 business organizations at the prestigious Shoreacres, Conway Farms Golf Club, and Onwentsia Club—these hard to access private clubs are the perfect backdrop for this philanthropic tournament.
“The tournament would not be a success without the dedication of our hardworking board comprised of 34 busy and accomplished professionals in the Chicago private equity and deal community—each of whom has committed a full year of planning, organizing, and executing the tournament,” notes Schmarak.
Check-in and tee-offs begin in the morning, with food and activities taking place throughout the day. The tournament culminates with a celebration at Onwentsia. This evening event includes everything from food and cocktails to cigar-rolling, great giveaways, and a silent auction of foursomes at many of the top 100 courses in the world. Tournament winners are also announced at this time in a special awards ceremony.
Schmarak, a Glencoe resident for the past 23 years, anticipates this year’s Open to raise between $800,000 and $1 million for NKFI. “It’s a phenomenal organization with fantastic leadership,” he says, a nod to the foundation’s CEO, Anne Black, who has been a key component of the tournament for the past 14 years.
“The Open has allowed us, through the millions of dollars it has raised, to provide critical patient programming and launch our kidney mobile,” Black shares. “Since 2006, we have been able to provide free education and health screenings for over 53,000 individuals across the state for kidney disease and its two leading causes: high blood pressure and diabetes. Our goal is to help catch the disease early before dialysis or transplants are needed.”
This October, the foundation will be honoring Schmarak with the Harold and Molly Schwartz Founders award at their annual Gift of Life Gala for his dedication to the cause, which is just one of his many charitable pursuits: “Reed Smith has been very supportive of my pro-bono and philanthropic endeavors,” he shares. This includes serving on the Board of Trustees of Ravinia, leading the pro-bono work for PGA champion Jason Day’s Brighter Days Foundation and for Sean’s Penn’s J/P Haitian Relief Organization, as well as working with a Grammy Award-winning country artist and his wife, to plan a Nashville event for the Alzheimer’s Association.
Undoubtedly driven by a desire to give back, Schmarak declares: “It is among the most fulfilling and gratifying work that I do.”
For more information, visit nkfi.org.