Kings Bowl in Rosemont recently honored Charles Tillman for winning the 2013 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award by dedicating lanes 3 and 4 to the Bears cornerback.
Tillman won the prestigious award primarily for his charity work with the Cornerstone Foundation. Since he and his wife Jackie created the organization in 2005, their efforts have impacted over one million children and raised more than $1 million. The award is the only league honor that recognizes a player’s community service as well as his playing excellence.
The Man of the Year Award was named after Payton following the Hall of Fame running back’s death in 1999 due to liver disease at the age of 45. Kings dedicated lanes 3 and 4 to Tillman because Payton wore No. 34 during his 13 illustrious seasons with the Bears.
“The NFL is recognized worldwide for what it does for the community,” said Kings CEO Frank Stryjewski. “So with his peers in the NFL recognizing Charles and also his special connectivity to Chicago and Walter Payton, honoring him like this is just something that we wanted to do to say thank you to Charles for all that he’s done and also for what he’s done for Kings.”
Each of the past two years, Tillman has held fundraisers for the Cornerstone Foundation at Kings, an expansive bowling, billiards, dining and cocktail venue that’s located in the MB Financial Park at Rosemont, a major new entertainment complex that is home to eight other restaurants and clubs. Tillman’s two “Pro BOWLer Tournaments” have combined to generate over $300,000.
Current and former Bears who participated in last year’s event included Anthony Adams, Rashied Davis, Matt Forte, Chris Harris, Tim Jennings, Johnny Knox, Patrick Mannelly, Shea McClellin, Jason McKie, Adrian Peterson, Craig Steltz and Major Wright. Others on hand were Jarrett Payton, Walter’s son; and former NBA star Antoine Walker, a Chicago native.
The Cornerstone 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.
“Charles is just a humble, caring, dedicated guy who has taken his own personal story and transformed it into something that’s helping so many more people,” Stryjewski said. “That just connected with us in so many ways. His foundation works with us so closely to make sure that the events are memorable and celebrations of life. And with the leverage Charles can bring with his influence and personality, he has made a big contribution to Kings as well as the community.”
Tillman is just the second individual to have a Kings lane dedicated to him, joining former Boston Celtics great Paul Pierce, who now plays for the Brooklyn Nets.
“It’s not something we do a lot,” Stryjewski said. “We want to make sure that it’s a very special thing for some very special people, and Charles is most certainly that.”
The lanes were dedicated to Tillman during a party for Cornerstone Foundation executive board members. After making a speech during which he thanked Kings and other supporters, Tillman christened one of the lanes by knocking down nine pins before picking off the 10th for a spare.
“This event is great,” said Cornerstone Foundation board member Tim Hannahs, a senior vice president at Fifth Third Bank. “It’s an opportunity for us in a social setting to interact with Charles and the other board members and reflect upon the good work that we’ve done over the past year and also plant the seeds for some exciting ideas for 2014 and beyond.”