An Evening with Israel Idonije

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An Evening with Israel Idonije, former Chicago Bear and NFL star, Israel “Izzy” Idonije is known as a powerful voice and force for good in the humanitarian arena.

Approximately 200 guests came out to support the foundation’s programs which have benefitted over 8,000 youth in Chicago-area and other communities across the globe since 2007.  Guests took advantage of the opportunity to mingle with other present and former NFL players in attendance – Charles Tillman, Brendan Ayanbadejo, Jerry Azumah, Adewale Ogunleye, Anthony Adams, Ryan Mundy, Dave Bass, and Martellus Bennett – while sipping Hennesy cocktails, grazing on a tailgate food style buffet and Swirlz Cupcakes.

Before introducing this year’s Humanitarian Award recipient, Idonije said, “This fundraiser celebrates our support system and the five core programs that our foundation offers.  We rely on donors to help us fulfill our mission to help youth recognize their potential and develop the talents that are uniquely theirs through programs focusing on social and emotional life skills.”

Idonije went on to add, “An anonymous sponsor once provided an after-school membership to the local YMCA [Manitoba, Canada] for me and my siblings.  That gift made a major difference in my life.  It is important to me to help youth in the neighborhoods around us connect with the world around them so they are equipped with the skills necessary to set goals, make good decisions and create opportunities that put them on the trajectory of success.”

Charles “Peanut” Tillman received the foundation’s Humanitarian Award for the community work he does with critically ill children and their families, through his Cornerstone Foundation, and by lending his support to numerous other related causes.  Tillman who played with the Chicago Bears for 12 seasons is now with the Carolina Panthers.  Peanut, as he is affectionately known, was selected to two Pro Bowls and was the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2013.

Long-time foundation supporter and presenting sponsor of the Evening with Israel Idonije, Bank of America, presented the foundation with a check for $30,000.  Windy City Live’s Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini served as the evening’s hosts which raised approximately $150,000.

One of the foundation’s programs, IZZYz KIDz After-School Program in Chicago, funds a structured summer internship where students spend one day a week job-shadowing in a field of their interest; one day a week learning about career soft skills such as networking, resume building and dressing for success; and one day a week working on a summer learning project which includes reading and reflections.  Each year 40-60 high achieving students participate in the program which also promotes social and emotional learning and career development.

About The Israel Idonije Foundation:

The Israel Idonije Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization founded in 2007 by Israel Idonije.  IIF is committed to impacting underserved communities by providing programs focused on social and emotional life skills.  All donations are tax-deductible.  Thousands of children have participated in and benefited from the programs the Foundation provides in Chicago, Winnipeg, and West Africa.  To learn more visit

Sponsors also included Ask the Doctor and Michigan Avenue magazine.

About Margaret O'Connor

Margaret J. O’Connor is the founder/owner of MarCon Communications, a public relations and special events firm which handles the publicity and event needs for a diverse range of clients. She’s involved with numerous charities in Chicago and is active in its lifestyle and social scene. She grew up and was educated in Africa, Australia and America and holds degrees in marketing and finance from the University of Illinois. She is a contributing writer to many print and digital publications and her focus is lifestyle, culinary and nonprofit events. Read more from this author.