For fans who would like to support Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman’s charitable efforts, there isn’t a better or more fun event to attend than his Celebrity Waiter Night.
The annual event, which will be held Oct. 13 at a yet-to-be-determined venue, traditionally raises funds for the most important programs coordinated by Tillman’s Cornerstone Foundation.
One such program is “Charles’ Locker,” which provides children and their families with access to iPads, notebook computers, DVD players, portable PlayStation game systems and other electronic handheld games in hospitals to pass the time during recovery and treatment.
Another is the “TendHER Heart Luncheon,” which annually honors more than 150 mothers of chronically and critically ill children for the sacrifices they make in caring for their sick children.
“What makes the Celebrity Waiter Night so special is that a lot of those proceeds fund all the programs that we’re able to put on,” Tillman said. “So we really try to do a good job of raising a lot of money at the event so we can help out all of our families.
“Without the Celebrity Waiter Night, we couldn’t have ‘Charles’ Locker’ and we couldn’t have the ‘TendHER Heart Luncheons.’ So this is one of if not the most important event because without this one we couldn’t do anything else.”
The Celebrity Waiter Night last fall at the Montgomery Club in Chicago helped pay for two child life specialist positions 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 may have difficulties adjusting to or understanding a child’s illness and hospitalization.
One of the child life specialist positions works exclusively in the Regenstein Cardiac Care Unit, a state-of-the-art 36-bed unit that opened in June 2012 and is devoted to the care of young patients suffering from cardiac disease. The unit previously did not have its own child life specialist.
Tillman and his wife, Jackie, can relate to what the families in the cardiac unit are dealing with. In 2008, their three-month-old daughter, Tiana, was diagnosed with a rare heart condition and received a life-saving heart transplant.
Tillman created the Cornerstone Foundation in 2005 to provide children with educational opportunities and resources to excel in the classroom. But after Tiana’s medical ordeal, the mission was changed to improving the lives of critically and chronically ill children.
Attending the Celebrity Waiter Night gives fans an opportunity to mingle with Bears players and enjoy hors d’oeuvres, a four-course meal and fine wine. The event also features silent and live auctions.
Joining Tillman as celebrity “waiters” at last year’s event were current and former Bears Anthony Adams, Jerry Azumah, Lance Briggs, Alex Brown, Rashied Davis, Tim Jennings, Patrick Mannelly, Shea McClellin, Craig Steltz and Major Wright.
“There are a lot of events that help people and help a lot of different organizations,” Brown said at last year’s Celebrity Waiter Night. “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.”
Tillman appreciates the support he receives from his current and former teammates.
“It’s a good feeling to know that your teammates have got your back,” he said. “And that they support you and the families that my wife and I are trying to help.”