Bears fans and corporate sponsors aren’t the only ones who are eager to support the numerous events that Charles Tillman conducts to benefit his Cornerstone Foundation.
Bears teammates past and present also routinely attend events such as the Charles Tillman Celebrity Pro BOWLer Tournament Thursday night at Kings Lanes, Lounge & Sports in Rosemont.
“A lot of people know Charles on the field and how great of a player he is,” said Bears safety Craig Steltz. “But they may not realize how great of a teammate he is, not just on the field but off the field and what he brings to the locker room. He’s a special guy and a special teammate.
“Anytime you can help somebody out like that for his foundation and what he does for the community, it’s incredible. So we’re more than [happy] to help out anytime we can.”
In addition to the Celebrity Pro BOWLer Tournament, Steltz also volunteered to serve hors d’oeuvres, a four-course meal and fine wine at Tillman’s annual Celebrity Waiter Night last October at the Montgomery Club in Chicago.
“As much as he gives his time to the community and with his foundation, it’s incredible,” said Steltz, who has been teammates with Tillman since 2008.
“You rarely see a guy of his caliber give so much back to his foundation and what he does for the community and the kids’ lives that he affects. That’s special, and he’s a great role model for guys coming into our locker room and coming into the league.”
Tillman and his wife, Jackie, created the Cornerstone Foundation in 2005 to provide children with educational opportunities and resources to excel in the classroom. But after their 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.
“I feel like he and Jackie are both very committed to what they’re doing,” said Rashied Davis, a Bears cornerback and receiver from 2005-10 who participated in the bowling tournament.
“With other organizations, some people aren’t really involved in what’s going on. But you know they’re committed to it. Their daughter has dealt with it and they’ve dealt with it personally. When they were going through that [in 2008], my heart went out to them because I couldn’t fathom having to deal with that with my kids. So that’s one of the reasons that I come out and do this.”
Since its inception, the Cornerstone Foundation has impacted over one million Chicago-area children and raised over $1 million. The organization’s programs include “Charles’ Locker,” “Field of Dreams,” “Holiday Celebration,” “TendHER Heart Luncheon” and “The Tiana Fund.”
Charles’ Locker gives children and their families access to iPads, notebook computers, DVD players, portable PlayStation game systems and other electronic handheld games to pass the time during recovery and treatment.
Field of Dreams provides magical memories to chronically and critically ill children and their families by fulfilling sports-related wishes and vacation dreams.
The Holiday Celebration takes place each December when Tillman and his wife Jackie visit a local hospital to pass out gifts, visit with families and partake in activities to spread holiday cheer.
The TendHER Heart Luncheon honors mothers of chronically and critically ill children for the sacrifices they make in caring for their sick kids.
The Tiana Fund provides assistance to economically at-risk families. The support is intended to strengthen their ability to care for themselves, enhance their stability and security, and improve their quality of life or their ability to contribute to the community.