Children's author raising funds for Cornerstone Foundation
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Tony LiFonti has once again combined his passions for writing children’s books and raising money for Charles Tillman’s Cornerstone Foundation.
After authoring “The Story of Snowy Bear and the Lost Scarf,” the teacher and coach at Glenbard North High School in Carol Stream has penned “Pirate Bear and the Treasure Hunt.” As was the case with his first book, LiFonti will donate 60 percent of sales to the Cornerstone Foundation.
“The book is about teamwork,” LiFonti said. “Pirate Bear wakes up on the day of the annual treasure hunt and when he gets to the park and sees the prize, which is a treasure chest filled with toys and candy, he decides that he’s going to do it himself, that he’s not going to join a team.
“So he has a moment of selfishness. As he begins searching through the park, he sees and hears all of the fun that everybody else is having together, so of course in the end he loses and he feels terrible about his decision. He realizes he made a mistake and he should have joined a team.”
Understanding that he would have had more fun working with others, Pirate Bear accepts an invitation from a friend to join the team that won the treasure hunt.
It’s no coincidence that teamwork is the main theme of LiFonti’s second book. As a high school football and wrestling coach, it’s something that he constantly stresses to his student/athletes.
“I think it’s huge,” LiFonti said. “In fact, if there’s one thing I truly preach as a coach, it’s team everything. Nothing works without the team. A lot of people think that wrestling is an individual sport. But it is very much a team sport. Everybody’s match counts. Every point counts.
“The way you practice with someone, what you allow them to do and what they allow you to do, everything is all about togetherness. With our wrestling program, one of the big things that we preach is that team aspect. In fact, I think it plays a large role in how I view a lot of things because I really believe in that message.”
LiFonti feels that the book appeals most to kids ages 2-10, but the theme is universal.
“The message of working together is something that goes well beyond [children], even into adulthood with people always trying to get the most out of each other.” he said. “I don’t think that message ever ends.”
LiFonti’s first book told the story of a young bear who rushes to get dressed to go play in the snow but relies on his mother’s help to find his lost scarf. LiFonti first thought of the character “Snowy Bear” in 2004 while brainstorming with a colleague’s wife who is an artist.
According to LiFonti, sales of his “Snowy Bear” book raised $3,000 for the Cornerstone Foundation. LiFonti first met Tillman while participating in one of the Pro Bowl cornerback’s flag football tournaments benefitting the Cornerstone Foundation.
Since Tillman and his wife Jackie created the Cornerstone Foundation in 2005, it has impacted over one million children and raised more than $1 million.
The foundation initially provided children with educational opportunities and resources to excel in the classroom. But after Tillman’s three-month-old daughter, Tiana, was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy and received a life-saving heart transplant in 2008, the mission was changed to improving the lives of critically and chronically ill children.
“My grandparents and parents have always pushed the message that if you can do something for somebody, then you should do that,” LiFonti said. “So knowing how much Charles and Jackie do in the community for people who struggle, to be able to help in some way is just a blessing.