When popular athletes retire, charity work can become a double-edged sword. On one hand, they have more time to dedicate to their cause that they didn't have when they were playing games and training. On the other, they may not have the same star power they had during their playing days now that they're out of the limelight and also no longer have the same relationships with the players and media they depend on to attend their charity events.
Kerry Wood, so far, has proven to be an exception to this rule since he called it a day on his 14-year career in May.
You wouldn't know the 1998
Wood's second annual benefit drew Cubs chairman
Still, Wood knows the challenges that face his Wood Family Foundation — the children-focused charity he founded with his wife Sarah in 2011 — the longer he is away from the game.
"There are a bunch of guys on the team I don't know," Wood said at Friday's fundraiser. "I hope the guys I do know will talk them into it, and, obviously, I'll ask. There are a lot of guys who I met for the first time and they were excited to come. I always get great support from the fellas and the whole organization."
Wood and his foundation passed out about 5,000 sets of school supplies at HopeFest in Humboldt Park in July, and their Warm Wishes program provided winter clothing and toys to more than 400 students at Nash Elementary School in the Austin neighborhood in December. (The foundation turned the school's auditorium into a Winter Wonderland for the occasion, complete with Santa Claus and Christmas trees.) According to Sarah Wood, the bowling tournament, considered the foundation's signature event, will be replaced this year by a whiffle ball fundraiser at
"We felt the bowling event ran its course, with me no longer being a player and having access to the guys," Wood said. "Also, a lot of people are doing bowling events and we kind of wanted to do something more exclusive that not everybody can duplicate."
According to a spokeswoman for the Wood Family Foundation, more than $100,000 was raised at Friday's fundraiser. Last year's event raised more than $80,000.
Heads up: You can catch Paul Caravelli — chef of 545 North Bar and Grill in Libertyville — Tuesday on the premiere of
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