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I attended the 6th Annual Grand Slam Party at Rockit Bar & Grill last week and would love to tell you all about it…just in case you missed out. The Grand Slam party is an event that stems from the Bring Me Home campaign, which is an amazing union between the Chicago White Sox’s Paul Konerko and Gordon Beckham and Children’s Home + Aid, a foster organization in Chicago.  The event was one of those unique experiences that, if you’re a White Sox fan, it’s something you definitely don’t want to miss in the future.  Paul Konerko and Gordon Beckham took pictures with everyone who attended the event – including this lucky intern!  They were beyond friendly and nice to the fans and definitely loved interacting with the kids.  They had a silent auction with signed memorabilia from Konerko and Beckham, a special drawing to win 4 tickets to the August 20th game vs. the Yankees, as well a raffle to win signed hats and baseballs from Beckham and Konerko!

I was fortunate enough to talk with Children Home + Aid’s President and CEO, Nancy Ronquillo to learn more about the relationship between the White Sox and the organization.  The idea to team up with a local kid’s charity came about 6 years ago when Paul Konerko and Jim Thome wanted to give back to the community, so they listened to various charities pitch their missions.  Enter Children’s Home + Aid.  They pitched their organization, which has been around for an impressive 129 years, and for Konerko it was an easy choice; his wife, Jen, was raised with foster siblings so the cause hit close to home.  In 2009 when Thome was no longer with the team, Gordon Beckham stepped up to the plate to lend a helping hand.  They’ve raised over $350,000 since the partnership began.  Children’s Home + Aid has over 1,000 kids in its system and they’re always looking for foster families, mentors, and volunteers for various events.

The Grand Slam party really was a great event and having the star power of two of the most well-known baseball players in the city on hand definitely helped…not to mention an appearance by Governor Quinn, a big White Sox fan – trust me, listening to him talk baseball was kind of amusing, I never would have guessed our Governor knew so much about the team, nor was so passionate about them; I was quite impressed.  The coolest thing I witnessed was the surprise live auction, which was for 4 Gold Coast Club tickets to an upcoming game as well as the opportunity to have your picture taken on the field with the players before the game; estimated value: $1,000.  The bidding quickly rose to over $2,000 at which point Konerko grabbed the mic to offer a little more incentive to get the bidding going a little higher.  At this point there were 4 people who were bidding against one another so Paulie asked them what it would take for them to get to $3,000.  Everyone started shouting out suggestions: throw out the first pitch, meet AJ Pierszynski before the game (to which Konerko said, “trust me, it’s not that great”), get a tour of the clubhouse, meet Robin Ventura, Konerko asked what all of that would be worth to the bidders; one said he’d go to $3,500.  The other 3 followed suit and said they would match that.  Instead of creating more of a bidding war, Paulie asked a staffer from the Sox if it would be possible to do 4 separate days, they said yes, so all four bidders won in the end.  Konerko also offered the bidders each a signed bat “for being good sports.”  The live auction brought in an impressive $14,000 for Children’s Home + Aid. Impressive right? I’d say so!

Alex Chwastek

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