Raj Fernando at the Canine Therapy Corps Gala

Alongside a number of my colleagues and other local philanthropic-minded executives, I attended the Black & White Young Professionals Board Spring Gala on March 8. The gala was held at the Revel Downtown and served as an excellent opportunity to support another impactful Chicago-based non-profit: the Canine Therapy Corps (CTC).

CTC empowers and motivates individuals to lead healthier, happier lives by developing therapeutic relationships with animals. The organization accomplishes this by providing people in need with animal-assisted therapy services, free of charge. Through these programs, the CTC trains and certifies dogs of all different breeds. Certified dogs are then employed to visit individuals throughout Chicago, accompanied by their volunteer handlers.

The Young Professionals Board Gala included drinks, hors d’oeuvres, dinner and a silent auction – the proceeds of which went to support CTC’s programs and initiatives. The event served as a fantastic way for businesses and individuals alike to show their support and appreciation of CTC and everything that they provide our community.

More about Raj Fernando and Chopper Trading Philanthropy.

Chopper Trading at Mardi for a Cure

Two weeks ago a group of Chopper employees complemented our sponsorship of the Mardi for a Cure gala by attending the event, which supports a great cause while celebrating Carnival season.  The event was hosted by Friends for a Cure of Diabetes, which is a charity dedicated to raising money to fund clinical and bench research at the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center.  According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.  Without help from organizations like Friends for a Cure, new technologies would take many more years to develop and reach the people who need them most.

In addition to creating an enjoyable evening, the Friends for a Cure team achieved its most successful event ever.  There were more than 600 people in attendance – an excellent turnout especially considering the snow – and auction items brought in over $425,000 for the charity.  The auction included a wide selection of valuable and interesting items and services like a canine spa day, tickets to the skybox at a Cubs game, and getaways to exotic places like Carbarete, Dominican Republic; the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean; and the Mediterranean.  The evening was a valiant effort to benefit a cause that affects so many people.

 

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Raj Fernando’s Chopper Trading Sponsors PAWS Chicago Fur Ball 2013

Chopper Trading’s sponsorship of the annual PAWS Fur Ball is one of my favorite ways to give back to the Greater Chicago area, by helping to build ‘No Kill’ local communities for cats and dogs.  PAWS has had a tremendous impact in the lives of animals and humans alike, by helping the two find each other, and by setting new standards in the way that homeless animals are treated.  Since our firm is named after a dog I found through PAWS – my dog Chopper – it’s only fitting that the company give back to this organization.

The Fur Ball, held at the famous Drake Hotel, is one of the only black tie events I have been to where canine guests are treated as well as – if not better than –human guests! The dogs in attendance were able to enjoy a gourmet buffet, a complimentary spa treatment, and first class pet-sitting while their owners enjoyed live entertainment and dancing.  There was even a dog communicator in attendance this year, which if nothing else sparked some interesting conversations.

As part of the fundraiser, PAWS held both a silent and live auction with unique prizes to generate some much-needed funds for the organization.  Every year I’m impressed by the items up for bid; the notables this year included two all-inclusive tickets to the 2014 Super Bowl, the chance to rub elbows with celebrities on the red carpet of the premiere of the film “Transcendence”, a tour of some of the best golf greens in the country, and a ski trip.

With more than 700 people in attendance – including guests such as well-known musician Billy Corgan – the gala was a successful fundraiser, and by far one of my favorite events of the year!

 

Raj Fernando Participates in Panel Discussion at Annual Rosenblatt Global Exchange Leader Conference

The recently held 6th Annual Rosenblatt Global Exchange Leader Conference was an opportunity for portfolio managers, analysts, traders, asset managers, and proprietary trading firms like Chopper Trading to meet, network and discuss some of the most important trends in the industry.  As to be expected with Rosenblatt initiatives, the conference was professional, focused and productive for me and our firm.

Rosenblatt asked me to contribute to the panel discussion on proprietary trading.  While our discussion was mostly mired in industry talk about core cash-equities markets, and the potential impact of mergers, acquisitions, and IPOs coming down the pipeline, the panel also aimed to put the debate surrounding automated trading into perspective for investors and reporters.

In addition to speaking on the panel before the audience, I was able to hear updates about the next biggest trends set to impact our industry.  For Chopper to maintain a competitive edge, it’s important that our employees and our leadership continually challenge the status quo and drive ongoing improvement and learning.  This conference was just another way to seek out the information that helps Chopper to stay ahead of the game.

For more information on Rosenblatt Securities events, please visit their events page.
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Raj Fernando Hosts Fundraiser For Louis’ Groceries

This October, I hosted an event to help a first-of-its-kind local non-profit, Louis’ Groceries. Louis’ Groceries is striving to eradicate food deserts, which are communities where residents don’t have access to affordable healthy food.  Its mission is to make sure that the residents of Grand Crossing, Ill., a lower-income and hardworking area, are getting enough of the foods that are both good tasting and good for them. Louis’ Groceries also aims to develop a business model that will enable neighborhood corner stores to successfully retail fresh, healthy foods in food deserts throughout Illinois, or even the country.

Since opening in 2012, Louis’ Groceries has been selling fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy products at low prices. It has also been teaching local residents how to prepare wholesome, easy and affordable meals, to help them develop essential cooking skills that work for busy schedules. By making healthy foods more accessible, the hope is that low-income residents will be able to eat more food that is nutrient dense, and less fattening, thus lowering obesity and diabetes rates.

To support the importance of healthy food, Louis’ Groceries invited six top Chefs from around Chicago to prepare locally sourced and appetizing food samples for the recent fundraiser at my home.  Among the chefs were:

  • Richie Farina, Sous Chef at Moto Restaurant, and a “Top Chef” contestant during the show’s ninth season.
  • Matt Eversman, Chef/Partner at OON, who opened his own restaurant at the age of 28 and has since developed a reputation as one of  the city’s best.
  • Tom Van Lente and Kevin Cuddihee, Head Chefs at TWO Restaurant and Bar, who have a unique culinary style inspired by their commitment to local ingredients, which they showcase in their work.
  • Mark Sparacino, Chef from Prosecco, who is well-known and experienced, and brought his Italian recipes to the table at the fundraiser.
  • Last but not least, Courtney Lance, Louis’ Groceries own Chef, prepared healthy and delicious sandwiches that her customers can learn how to make in the store.

With the help of our incredible chef participants, we were able to raise $100,000.00 for Louis’ Groceries. Thank you to everyone who attended, and contributed to the effort!.

Chopper Trading Sponsors Chukkers for Charity

Once again, Chopper Trading was proud to sponsor the 11th annual Chukkers for Charity on September 7, hosted by the Rotary Club of Oswego.  The Rotary Club of Oswego uses this Charity polo match to raise money to support local and international health, humanitarian and educational needs.  Proceeds from the event will help to fund well-known projects such as Polio Eradication Worldwide, Water Wells in Haiti, Owens Family YMCA Strong Kids Campaign, and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Kendall County.  The Rotary Club of Oswego also supports a number of children’s sports teams and other organizations in the area such as Kendall County homeless shelters and scholarship programs for the local community college.

With approximately 400 attendees from regions all over northern Illinois, the polo match was an opportunity for Chopper Trading to contribute and connect with the local community and carry on a sport with an extensive heritage in the greater Chicago area.  Steeped in traditions that date back hundreds of years, polo is an exciting sport that attracts people from all walks of life to enjoy good food and great company.  We are glad to know that our sponsorship helped the Rotary Club of Oswego carry on these traditions, and will enable them to help make a difference in people’s lives throughout the community and around the world.

Raj Fernando Proud Contributor of Steppenwolf Gala

As an ardent supporter of both local Chicago charities and the performing arts, I am proud to contribute to The Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s mission to engage audiences and provide stimulating performances.

Steppenwolf recently held its annual gala bringing together civic and business leaders from the Chicago community for a memorable celebration of the theater. The event is critical to providing the organization with the resources that its actors, directors and playwrights need to continue their work. I, alongside Chopper Trading employees, have enjoyed many of Steppenwolf’s marvelous performances over the years.

This annual Gala provides us with a chance to give back, and the 2013 event was a great success – Steppenwolf was able to raise more than $1 million from event ticket sales and the live auction.  Auction items included opening-night tickets to the upcoming Broadway production of “Of Mice and Men,” starring James Franco, as well as dinner with Joan Allen, Rick Bayless, Laurie Metcalf and Bruce Norris, and a chance to join William Petersen at an upcoming Chicago Cubs baseball game.

Kudos to Steppenwolf for hosting another exciting and successful event!

Chopper Trading and Big Brothers Big Sisters

For the third consecutive year, Chopper Trading has partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago to provide one-on-one mentors for children ages six through 18. The mission of BBBS is, through a network of mentor volunteers, to provide high impact mentoring that enables lifelong success. The relationships that are created between the mentors (“Bigs”) and the children (“Littles”) are tremendous and truly help inspire the children to realize that they each possess unlimited potential, and a bright and positive future.

This month, Chopper accompanied a dozen children from Suder Elementary School, to the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) Special Recreation Facility. The Chopper ”Bigs” and their “Littles” participated in UIC’s Team Challenge Program, which included activities focused on teamwork, cooperation and building trust amongst the members of the group. Like all of our previous outings with BBBS, this was a memorable day for all of us at Chopper and we hope that our time with the children has instilled in them the confidence to unlock their potential.

These relationships, built on trust and friendship, significantly impact the lives of these children. In fact, Public/Private Ventures – an independent Philadelphia-based national research organization – conducted a study of nearly one thousand boys and girls from eight Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across the country. The researchers found that after 18 months of spending time with their “Bigs”, the ”Littles”, compared to those children not in the program, were:

  • 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
  • 27% less likely to begin using alcohol
  • 52% less likely to skip school
  • 37% less likely to skip a class
  • 33% less likely to hit someone

They also found that the “Littles” were more confident about their performance in school and got along better with their families.

 

Chopper Trading Sponsors FIA Expo and Futures Cares Charity Dinner

As part of FIA Expo, on Thursday, November 1stChopper Trading is sponsoring the Futures Cares Charity Dinner to benefit the Great Chicago Food Depository. The Futures Cares Charity Dinner gives companies and individuals in the futures and options industry the opportunity to provide funds to feed people in need. Futures Cares has raised over $1.2 million to help feed the hungry in Chicago over the last four years.

 

To find out more information about the fundraiser, visit the Chicago Food Bank website.

 

Additionally, the public can enter to win dinner for two at 12 of Chicago’s finest steakhouses to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository: www.chicagosfoodbank.org/chicagosteakhouses. The winner will be announced on Friday, November 2nd.