Woody's Winter Warm-up Raises Over $80,000 for the Wood Family Foundation
Call it the perfect ending to a hectic week as Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood and wife Sarah had much to celebrate. The same day Wood re-signed with the Cubs for another year, he and Sarah also raised over $85,000, entertained friends, celebrities and Cubs players at the Wood Family Foundation’s 1st “Woody’s Winter Warm-Up” on Friday, January 13th at Harry Caray’s Tavern, Navy Pier. In celebrating with fans and new teammates, ‘Woody’ recruited guest bartenders throughout the evening who suited up in a t-shirt and bar apron and competed for tips while serving drinks and food to guests. Participants included media personalities Val Warner (ABC’s Windy City LIVE), Lou Cannelis (Fox Chicago) and Pete McMurray (The Loop FM) in addition to Cubs players Ryan Dempster, Tony Campana, Travis Wood, Chris Volstad, Ian Stewart, Matt Garza, Randy Wells, Marlon Byrd, former Cubs Rick Sutcliffe and Gary Matthews and new manager Dale Sveum. Even Bears players Otis Wilson, Richard Dent and Israel Idonije did some mixing behind the bar.
Emcee Ryan Chiaverini (ABC’s Windy City LIVE) kicked off the event by welcoming guests and highlighting the evenings program which included silent auction and live auctions and musical performances by Chicago’s very own platinum selling Grammy nominated Plain White T’s; singer-songwriter William Beckett, who fronted the band The Academy Is…; and music producer Paul Blair, AKA DJ White Shadow. Chiaverini introduced Kerry and Sarah who thanked everyone for coming and spoke about the Wood Family Foundation and its mission. While Tom Ricketts and Theo Epstein stood nearby, Wood expressed his excitement for the upcoming season and remaining a Cub again, “there is no place like Chicago: it’s home.”
Guests were not only entertained by the special acoustic performance by the event’s headline band, Plain White T’s, but unexpectedly by Chicago Cubs pitcher Randy Wells who took to the stage to perform “Free Fallin” alongside the Plain White T’s. But it didn’t stop there, next up was President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein who played “Rockin’ In A Free World” on guitar with the band and finally, Chiaverini who both sang and played guitar to “Sweet Home Alabama.”
Ryan Dempster did his remarkable impression of Harry Caray (with Dutchie standing front row smiling) complete with glasses and voice to showcase the one LIVE auction item which was the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at a Cubs game. However, the bidding became very interesting when Dempster asked Wood to include a 30-minute pitching session with himself and when Wood agreed, the auction shot up and sold at 7k. Another bidder shouted their interest in buying the exact same package for 7k if it were offered….and so it was. A total of 14k was raised from the LIVE auction item.
DJ White Shadow moved the evening along with dance music and Harry Caray’s owner Grant DePorter allowed the party to continue past midnight.
Others in attendance included Cubs owners, The Ricketts, Cubs players Jeff Samardzija, Darwin Barney, Russell Wells, Josh Vitters, David DeJesus, Ian Stewart, and superfan Ronnie Woo Woo.
“Tonight was a huge success for the Wood Family Foundation’s 1st Woody’s Winter Warm-Up, raising money to continue our support for the children of Chicago. It was great to have the Ricketts, Theo, Dale and Cubs players on board to help make this fundraiser such a success in addition to our fantastic celebrity bartenders and special guest performers. Sarah and I are grateful to everyone who came out this evening to celebrate with us. We may have to make this an annual event!” exclaims Wood.