Celebrity Waiter Night a big hit|
October 16th, 2013
Alex Brown whisked around the room Monday night at the Montgomery Club in Chicago, serving hors d’oeuvres to excited guests while also stopping to chat, sign autographs and pose for photos.
The former Chicago Bears defensive end was happy to volunteer for Charles Tillman’s fourth annual Celebrity Waiter Night because it gave him a chance to help a great cause and support a longtime teammate.
“There are a lot of events that help people and help a lot of different organizations,” Brown said. “But what I like about this is it’s a friend of mine who’s actually doing this, and that’s what drives me to come out and help.
“He’s done so much for so many different people. He’s had so many great things happen to him in his life, so him giving back is a great thing. Everybody doesn’t do it, so it’s great to see him doing that.”
The Celebrity Waiter Night is the most significant fundraising event of the year for Tillman’s Cornerstone Foundation. Last year’s event generated close to $200,000.
Tillman created the organization in 2005 to provide children with educational opportunities and resources to excel in the classroom. But after his three-month-old daughter, Tiana, was diagnosed with a rare heart condition and received a life-saving heart transplant in 2008, the mission was changed to improving the lives of critically and chronically ill children.
At Monday night’s event, Tillman joined current and former Bears teammates in trading their helmets and shoulder pads for plates and aprons, serving hors d’oeuvres, a four-course Gibsons’ menu and fine wine.
The celebrity waiters included Anthony Adams, Jerry Azumah, Lance Briggs, Rashied Davis, Tim Jennings, Patrick Mannelly, Shea McClellin, Craig Steltz and Major Wright.
“I think they have fun doing it,” Tillman said. “I’m having fun doing it and it’s always a good crowd. Each year we get a little bit bigger, so we have to keep switching venues. I’m thankful that the Montgomery Club was able to lend us this space. It’s a way to give back and it’s for a good cause at the same time.”
The celebrities signed autographs, but the real stars of the evening were the 250 or so guests who purchased tickets to the event.
“There are a lot of people here who could be doing something else tonight,” Brown said. “I’m pretty sure they had to block off something to come do this. It’s great to see so many people support this cause and help other families that they may or may not even know at all.”
Funds raised at Monday night’s event will pay for two child life specialists for two years at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Child life specialists provide support to sick kids and their families who have difficulties adjusting to or understanding a child’s illness and hospitalization.
One of the guests at the Celebrity Waiter Night was Karen Conley, who is a big supporter of Tillman and his wife Jackie.
“Charles and Jackie just have a heart for this cause,” Conley said. “It’s so personal to them. They’re amazing, generous people who want to give back. It’s a great event. You can’t beat it. All the servers are friendly and engaging.”
The benefit also featured a live and silent auction with about 75 items, including Bears helmets, jerseys, cleats and other autographed memorabilia as well as tickets to sporting events, shopping sprees, golf packages and trips.
Francie Paul volunteered at the Celebrity Waiter Night for the third straight year. “I love the energy and that everyone is excited to be here,” she said.
“I just love that everyone’s here for a good cause, and I know that Charles and Jackie put their hearts into it and everyone is here to help kids and to make a difference.”