November 9th, 2012
Bears cornerback Charles Tillman and his wife Jackie were presented with a prestigious award Thursday night at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago’s fourth annual Champions for Children’s benefit dinner at the Hilton Chicago.
The Tillmans were honored for their commitment to the health and well-being of the more than 148,000 patients treated at Lurie Children’s each year.
Through his Cornerstone Foundation, Tillman has provided chronically and critically ill children at the hospital with two “Charles’ Lockers” filled with iPads, notebook computers, DVD players, portable PlayStation game systems and other electronic handheld games to help pass the time during recovery and treatment.
Charles and Jackie came up with the idea in 2008 when their three-month-old daughter Tiana was a patient at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago awaiting a life-saving heart transplant she eventually received after being diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a rare disorder.
“With our experience, I felt like I’ve been given a platform to help other families,” Tillman told those in attendance while accepting the award with his wife at his side. “I feel like every kid should have a chance to be a kid. I don’t think any kid should be robbed of that.”
Donating lockers stocked with electronic gadgets isn’t the only way Tillman helps patients and their families. Through his foundation, he hosts an annual “TendHER Heart” Luncheon each spring for 150 mothers of sick kids, honoring them for the sacrifices they make. He also operates the “Tiana Fund,” which provides economic assistance to families in need to help them care for patients, increase their stability and security, and improve their quality of life.
While accepting the award in a packed ballroom at the Champions for Children’s benefit, Tillman urged those in attendance to do their part to help others.
“I really appreciate this honor,” Tillman said. “I have a bit of an advantage because I play football and I have a platform. But I’m no different than any of you coming here supporting the Lurie Children’s event. The only thing I ask is to support all the foundations in your local community. They do great things.”
The Champions for Children’s event recognizes Chicago sports teams that have supported the patients and families served by Lurie Children’s Hospital as well as those who are dedicated to giving back to their community. All funds raised are used to enhance the hospital’s capacity to provide the best medical treatment and compassionate care to every child in need.
A diverse group of more than three dozen current and former Chicago athletes attended the event. Those on hand included Bears right tackle Gabe Carimi and nine members of the 1985 Super Bowl XX championship team: Maury Buford, Kevin Butler, Jay Hilgenberg, Dennis McKinnon, Matt Suhey, Tom Thayer, Calvin Thomas, Keith Van Horne and Otis Wilson.
Others in attendance included former Bears Anthony Adams, Alex Brown, Rashied Davis and James “Big Cat” Williams; former Blackhawks stars Chris Chelios and Tony Esposito; former Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood; and former White Sox stars Ron Kittle, Bill Melton and Minnie Minoso.