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Amanda Peters' Story with the Cornerstone Foundation
December 3rd, 2012

Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation, prolanthropyTommi Sellers and her 19-year-old daughter, Amanda Peters, are big Charles Tillman fans, and their admiration has little to do with anything the Bears cornerback has done on the football field. 

Amanda was born with a rare form of Spina Bifida and has spent more days of her life in the hospital undergoing and recovering from multiple surgeries than she has at home.

In a recent email, Sellers thanked Tillman and his wife Jackie for helping critically and chronically ill children such as Amanda through their Cornerstone Foundation, which was created in 2005.

“In the past several years we have taken part in several of the services offered by the Cornerstone Foundation and we will be forever grateful,” wrote Tommi, who lives in suburban Alsip.

Amanda still talks glowingly about a holiday celebration that Tillman hosted at the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital a few years ago. He distributed gifts, visited with the kids and their families, and conducted a bingo game.

“She enjoyed it so much and I can honestly tell you that is one of her favorite childhood ‘hospital’ memories,” Tommi wrote. “Every time she tells that story her face lights up and she gets excited to tell it over and over again. I never get tired of hearing that story.

“That means a lot to me as a mom. Just a little sunshine in our storm was provided by you and your foundation. Keep making memories for kids.”

During a telephone interview, Tommi recalled that Amanda thought Tillman was “hysterical.”

“I’ve never heard her laugh like that,” Tommi said. “They were big belly laughs. He knocked the bingo board over and she thought that was the funniest thing ever.”

Tommi reports that Amanda, who is currently at Comer recuperating from another procedure, watched the Bears beat the Vikings last Sunday and told her nurse the bingo story once again.

Tommi is also grateful to Tillman for the “TendHer Heart” luncheons the Cornerstone Foundation hosts. Each spring more than 150 mothers of critically and chronically ill children attend a brunch honoring them for the sacrifices they make in caring for their sick children.

“I have attended two of the luncheons and I found this to be one of the most humbling experiences I have taken part in,” Tommi wrote. “To be in a room full of moms who really get it and can relate, I have made several friends and still keep in touch with them thanks to this event.”

Tommi and Amanda have also benefitted from the Cornerstone Foundation’s “Tiana Fund,” which provides economic assistance to families to help them care for patients, increase their stability and security, and improve their quality of life. Through the fund, Tommi received a donation to help purchase a handicap-accessible van for Amanda, who is confined to a wheelchair.

The fund is named after Tillman’s four-year-old daughter, who had a rare heart disorder and received a life-saving heart transplant in 2008. The Cornerstone Foundation was initially created to provide children with educational opportunities and resources to excel in the classroom. But after the medical ordeal with his daughter, Tillman changed the foundation’s mission to improving the lives of critically and chronically ill children.

In concluding her email to the Tillmans, Tommi wrote: “Thank you for all you do. I am continually humbled by your generosity and kindness that you continue to share. I speak so highly of Charles, Jackie, and the Cornerstone Foundation and how it continues to provide happiness and support.

“Charles and Jackie, you are true heroes by taking the negative in your own lives and turning it into a positive in the lives of so many. Please keep doing what you are doing and thank you for all the joy and support you have given to my family and so many other people.”