Though it took her Oct. 7 wedding to officially call Chicago home, Niku Ghalkhani knew she adored the city from the first time she visited her now-husband Ali Shahanaghi — with whom she had a similar love-at-first-sight moment. The couple first met last spring at a mutual friend’s party in their hometown of Montreal, and after a four-month long-distance relationship — Shahanaghi is based in Chicago as vice president of a dental corporation — the duo knew it was meant to be. “We were on our third or fourth date when Ali brought up marriage. It was down-to-earth and that’s what I like most about him,” says Ghalkhani, who works as a biologist. Following tradition, Shahanaghi discussed marriage with Ghalkhani’s parents, and after an engagement party in Montreal they tied the knot at the Waldorf Astoria in Chicago a month later.
If the past few years of Bill Caswell’s life sound like the stuff of movie scripts, that’s because they are. From 2004 to 2009, the University of Chicago business school graduate crunched numbers as an investment banker. But after hours and on the weekends, he retreated to the suburbs to tinker with cars in the garage of his mom’s Kenilworth home. In June 2009, the recession provided him with the perfect excuse to hang up his suit and focus on his passion full time. Caswell bought a $500 clunker on Craigslist, fixed it up, entered the World Rally Championship, where he raced against professionals driving cars worth nearly a half a million dollars — and finished third.
Urban Initiatives shot and scored with its 7th annual Soccer Ball, which was held at the River East Art Center (435 E. Illinois) on Jan. 25 and sold out faster than any previous year. Nearly 800 guests showed up to support the nonprofit’s health- and education-based soccer programs, which have expanded over the past six years to serve thousands of children attending 22 Chicago Public Schools. Masters of Ceremonies and ESPN 1000 hosts Marc Silverman and Carmen DeFalco entertained attendees who sipped cocktails, snacked on appetizers, danced and bid on silent auction items to help net nearly $300,000.