Fans, Friends And Supporters Turn Out For Big Cat Charities Fundraiser To Help The Homeless
Approximately 200 fans, friends and supporters joined James “Big Cat” Williams for the 2nd annual “Celebrity Bash for Cash” to benefit Big Cat Charities, whose mission is raising funds to help eradicate homelessness and hunger among women, single parents and families. “Big Cat” Williams spent his twelve-year career in the NFL playing for the Chicago Bears and joining him were former and current Bears and other athletes: Richard Dent, Allan Ellis, Roberto Garza, Olin Kreutz, Jeremy Lincoln, Marc May, Ray McElroy, Marques Sullivan, Donnell Woolford, along with Ashley Hooks, Miss Illinois USA 2012 and Reality TV contestant Russ Swan from Survivor: Samoa and Survivor: Philippines and TV personality from WCIU, Summer Jackson.
The fundraiser held on sound stage # 6 at Cinespace Chicago Film Studio was decked out in a Speakeasy theme conceptualized by Event Creative. Outside the sound stage entrance were several 1920 era cars, from Midwest Picture Cars, whose cars are often seen in movies. Guests stopped to have their photos taken with the cars and set props which included life-size mannequins dressed as Clyde and Bonnie, and tommy guns.
Movie set caterer Gala Catering laid out quite the spread; a sumptuous buffet of grilled salmon and chicken, relishes, vegetables, roasted potatoes and an elaborate salad and dessert bar. St. Claire Vodka provided signature cocktails, beer by Corona Extra, chocolate wine from Chocolatier Wine, Pepsi products and wine.
Emcee Summer Jackson from WCIU welcomed guests and introduced Big Cat, a familiar personality to everyone. Big Cat who spent his twelve-year career in the NFL playing for the Chicago Bears said, “My first real encounter with homelessness & hunger was when I was a football coach at North Chicago High School. To find out some of the players were homeless and that the only real meals they get are at school, was shocking. People work hard but sometimes find themselves in dire situations and sometimes not of their own making. We have all experienced unforeseen circumstances. Although I have not personally experienced homelessness and hunger these issues are very important to me.” He spoke briefly about why he chose the three nonprofit organizations his charity supports.
- Deborah’s Place: Supportive housing for women in Chicago
- Maryville Crisis Center: Short-term care for children who are experiencing a severe disruptive crisis and are challenged with an urgent matter.
- PADS (Providing Advocacy, Dignity, Shelter): Immediate, critical services to homeless families, children, men and women in Lake County.
Big Cat asked honorary chair Rev Tom Behrens, founder of The Night Ministry to join him and presented Rev Behrens with a certificate of appreciation. The Night Ministry is a nonprofit which has been helping people on Chicago’s nighttime streets struggling with loneliness, despair, poverty, substance abuse, homelessness and more since, 1976.
Delana Price Johnson, Big Cat’s business manager and the executive director of Big Cat Charities was recognized for her contributions. Big Cat added, “Today is Delana’s birthday and she is spending her birthday here with us.” As everyone joined in to sing “Happy Birthday,” a large chocolate layer cake was wheeled out to Delana’s complete surprise.
In her final remarks Summer Jackson encouraged everyone to check out the silent auction which included Chicago Bears team-signed footballs, the Diamond Suite Box for sixteen people to join Big Cat and other athletes for a Sox game, golf outings, sporting tickets, gift certificates from Chicago’s dining establishments and more.
As the evening drew to a close, guests were treated to a table of goodies including copies of Modern Luxury’s Men’s Book, Big Cat logo movie clap boards and chocolates, t-shirts, Gatsby screen wipes and iPad covers.
Sponsors: Brad Adolph, Cinespace Film Studio Chicago, Chocolatier Wine, Corona Extra, Event Creative, Gala Catering, Images on Confections, Michael O’Meara DDS, Midwest Picture Cars LLC, PepsiCo, St Claire Vodka
Media Sponsor: Men’s Book
For more information on Big Cat Charities, please visit BigCatCharities.org.
Photo Credit: Sum Lau for CS, Mike Kinyon and Larisa Pevtsova for Kontinent Media