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Making a Dent for Charity
The excitement in the air was evident as soon as you arrived at Carnivale restaurant where the celebration for Richard Dent, a Chicago Bears champion, two time Super Bowl winner, Super Bowl XX MVP and Class of 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee was about to begin.
As guests waited, they sipped on mojitos and sangrias before making their way into the main room with its expansive buffet spread filled with skirt steak, spicy shrimp and Spanish chorizo sausage skewers, empanadas and other selections.
Park Forest, home to Dent's new business venture, supplied off duty police officers to escort celebrities and sports personalities into the festivities: Andre Dawson, Dr. J - Julius Ervine, Marcus Allen, Vince Vaughn, and former Dent teammates, Mike Richardson, Doug Williams, Otis Wilson, Jim Covert, Jerry Azuma, Mickey Pruitt, Jim Osborne, Bruce Herron, Kurt Becker, James "Big Cat" Williams, Willie Gault, and current Chicago Bears, Israel Idonije and J'Marcus Webb.
The anticipation and excitement ramped up as Richard made his way through the crowd of 400, which included Chicago's business and community leaders, friends, fans and supporters, all offering their congratulations.
Ryan Baker, lead sports anchor for CBS Channel 2 acted as the evening's emcee. When Richard took the platform he expressed his overwhelming gratitude to everyone who had supported him throughout his career. Heartfelt tributes were given by friends, former teammates, college coach and mentor, Coach Joe Gilliam Sr. and daughters, Mary and Sarah.
Many community notables were in the event crowd: James Bell, corporate president and CFO of Boeing and wife, Mary, LaRue Martin Jr., Community Service Director of UPS and former NBA player who plays the occasional basketball game with good friend, President Obama, Les Coney, Ralph Hughes, Carol Adams , Lyle Logan and Shawnelle Richie, Bill Marovitz, Arny Granat, Darrell Williams, Joe & Jennifer Uremovich, George & Barb McCaskey, Dr. Michael O'Meara, Pro Football Hall of Fame President, Stephen Perry, Sara Beardsley Tatzloff and Ted Tatzloff, Bruno Cohen, Shelia and Keith Dorman Dan Uslan and Amy Wimer
Presenting Sponsor, The Boeing Company, was joined by $5,000 MVP Sponsors: Carnivale, Sara Lee, UPS, Rob Koranda Memorial Foundation and The Institute for Transfusion Medicine, run by former Dent teammate, Jim Covert.
Sackman Sponsors included: Art of Imagination, Cattleya Designs, CBS Chicago, C. H. James Restaurant Holdings, The Chicago Bears, Columbia College, Ernst & Young, Harbour Contractors, Hotel 71, MarCon Communications, Mesirow Financial, Northern Trust, O'Hare Limo and Standard Pipe & Supply.
Approximately $120,000 was raised through the event and will benefit The Make a Dent Foundation's scholarships in sports management program at Columbia College and community economic development programs. For more information please visit www.makeadentfoundation.com
*The event was produced by my good friend, Margaret O'Connor and her company, MarCon Communications.
Photo Credit: Steve Starr and Jeff Schear