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Author of children's book helping Cornerstone Foundation
December 19th, 2013

Tony LiFonti is a big fan of Charles Tillman as a football player and a person. So when the Chicago area high school teacher was looking for a charity to support, he chose the Cornerstone Foundation.

LiFonti authored a children’s book entitled, “The Story of Snowy Bear and the Lost Scarf,” and is donating 60 percent of sales to the foundation that Tillman created in 2005.

“I’ve got a great job teaching and coaching and it was really about doing something more,” LiFonti said. “I really wanted to help. There are a lot of great stories about people who struggle. I grew up very fortunate with great parents, and they along with my grandparents always preached that you give back; when you can do something for someone you do it.

“Just recognizing Charles as someone in the community who has always done as much as he can for everyone else, meeting him and speaking to him and just understanding what a good man he is, it was really a nice fit for me. I wanted to do something to help people in some way, have an impact on other people’s lives and at the same time do it with someone of strong character.

“And as you know, Charles embodies all of the things that I think good men aspire to be as a family man, as a professional and as a humanitarian.”

LiFonti, who teaches English and coaches wrestling at Glenbard North High School in Carol Stream, initially met Tillman while participating in one of the Pro Bowl cornerback’s flag football tournaments benefitting the Cornerstone Foundation. A meeting was set up by a mutual friend and LiFonti pitched the idea for his book to Tillman and his wife, Jackie.

“They were very gracious to give me some time,” LiFonti said. “I had some ideas sketched out and asked them what they thought. It was something they were interested in and we went from there.”

LiFonti’s book tells 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.

“He’d always been in my head,” LiFonti said. “I hadn’t really done much with him, but every time I’d sit down to write something, he always came back to me. And then when I went to Charles and Jackie and told them about my idea for the book, that was the first figure that came to me.”

In developing the story, LiFonti was seeking a universal message that resonated with children and adults. 

“I wanted to work to come up with something that was appealing to kids and parents at the same time,” LiFonti said. “The most important factor with the book is that parents are there to help their kids and be there for them when they struggle, they’re confused or when they make bad decisions. 

“So it was just really trying to find a storyline that went into that and for some reason I always came back to children lose things all the time and they panic and how important it is for parents to help them in those times. If kids know they have someone they can turn to help them, I think it has a great impact on them throughout their lives.”