Jan. 16, 2012
WFF raises more than $85,000 at Winter Warm-up
All proceeds from event to benefit Chicago's children
CHICAGO -- Call it the perfect ending to a hectic week, as Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood and his wife, Sarah, had much to celebrate. The same day Kerry re-signed with the Cubs for another year, he and Sarah also raised over $85,000, entertained friends, celebrities and Cubs players at the Wood Family Foundation's first Woody's Winter Warm-up on Friday, Jan. 13, at Harry Caray's Tavern, Navy Pier. In celebrating with fans and new teammates, 'Woody' recruited guest bartenders throughout the evening. Bartenders suited up in a T-shirt and bar apron and competed for tips while serving drinks and food to guests. Participants included media personalities Val Warner (ABC's Windy City LIVE), Lou Cannelis (Fox Chicago) and Pete McMurray (The Loop FM) in addition to Cubs players Ryan Dempster, Tony Campana, Travis Wood, Chris Volstad, Ian Stewart, Matt Garza, Randy Wells, Marlon Byrd, former Cubs Rick Sutcliffe, Jon Lieber, Gary Matthews and new manager Dale Sveum. Even Bears players Otis Wilson, Richard Dent and Israel Idonije did some mixing behind the bar. Others in attendance included Cubs owners Todd and Tom Ricketts, President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, Cubs players Jeff Samardzija, Darwin Barney, James Russell, Josh Vitters, David DeJesus, Ian Stewart, and superfan Ronnie Woo Woo.
Emcee Ryan Chiaverini (ABC's Windy City LIVE) kicked off the event by welcoming guests and highlighting the evening's program, which included a silent auction and live auctions as well as musical performances by Chicago's very own platinum-selling, Grammy-nominated Plain White T's; singer-songwriter William Beckett, who fronted the band The Academy Is ...; and music producer Paul Blair, aka DJ White Shadow. Chiaverini introduced Kerry and Sarah, who thanked everyone for coming and spoke about the Wood Family Foundation and its mission. While Tom Ricketts and Theo Epstein stood nearby, Wood expressed his excitement for the upcoming season and remaining a Cub: "There is no place like Chicago. It's home."
Guests were not only entertained by the special acoustic performance by the event's headline band, Plain White T's, but unexpectedly by Chicago Cubs pitcher Randy Wells, who took to the stage to perform "Free Fallin'" alongside the Plain White T's. But it didn't stop there; next up was Theo Epstein, who played "Rockin' In The Free World" on guitar with the band and, finally, Chiaverini, who sang and played guitar to "Sweet Home Alabama."
Ryan Dempster did his remarkable impression of Harry Caray (with Dutchie standing in the front row, smiling) complete with glasses and voice to showcase the one live auction item, which was the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at a Cubs game. The bidding became very interesting when Dempster asked Wood to include a 30-minute pitching session with himself and when Wood agreed, the auction shot up and sold at $7,000. Another bidder shouted their interest in buying the exact same package for $7,000 if it were offered, which it was. A total of $14,000 was raised from the live auction item.
DJ White Shadow moved the evening along with dance music, and Harry Caray's owner Grant DePorter allowed the party to continue past midnight.
"Tonight was a huge success for the Wood Family Foundation's first Woody's Winter Warm-up, raising money to continue our support for the children of Chicago," said Wood. "It was great to have the Ricketts, Theo, Dale and Cubs players on board to help make this fundraiser such a success in addition to our fantastic celebrity bartenders and special guest performers. Sarah and I are grateful to everyone who came out this evening to celebrate with us. We may have to make this an annual event!"
About the Wood Family Foundation: The Wood Family Foundation (WFF) is a non-profit organization that was founded in June 2011 by pitcher Kerry Wood and his wife, Sarah. The WFF works to improve the lives of children in and around Chicago by raising funds and awareness for children's charities and the causes they support. The WFF acts as an advocate for children in the Chicago community, inspiring others to join them in their mission of giving children the resources they need to succeed.