Cubs enthusiasts warm up with Kerry Wood

Cub pitcher Kerry Wood and his wife Sarah hosted their first "Woody's Winter Warm-up" fundraiser at Harry Caray's Restaurant at Navy Pier Friday night, January 13th. Almost 400 fans and friends came out to meet the many players in attendance, bid on sports memorabilia and support the Wood Family Foundation.

Windy City Live's Ryan Chiaverini emceed the event along with Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, who impersonated Harry Caray to perfection, oversized glasses and all. The evening included a dinner buffet, open bar, a silent auction and raffle but the highlight of the night was the opportunity to meet and greet the players, many who served as bartenders for the night. Seen serving drinks and competing for tips were Cubs players Matt Garza, Rick Sutcliffe, Ryan Dempster, Marlon Byrd, Randy Wells and President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein, along with media personalities Val Warner and Lou Canellis among others.

The silent auction was a sports lover's dream come true and offered a number of signed baseballs and jerseys, including one from Cubs legend Ernie Banks; an on-field photo op at Wrigley Field; a Cubs pitching rubber signed by the 2011 bullpen; tickets behind home plate and a pig roast for 100 at Carvetti's in Lake Geneva.

The entertainment kicked off with singer/songwriter William Beckett's acoustic set followed by bidding on a live auction package that included the opportunity to throw out the first pitch. Wood threw in a 30 minute batting session to sweeten the offer and super fan, Jim Beam VP, Thomas Strehle, was the winning bidder at $7K.

The platinum selling, Grammy nominated Plain White T's performed with Cubs pitcher Randy Wells sitting in for a song which he dedicated to Ron Santo. They ended the night performing their first number one single, "Hey There Delilah." DJ White Shadow, aka Paul Blair, also entertained the crowd with his masterfully blended mixes. (Blair produced Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" album.)

Others in attendance included Israel Idonije, Otis Wilson, Richard Dent, Jeff Samardzija, Darwin Barney, Delores "Dutchie" Caray, Barb and Roe Conn, Joanna and Grant DePorter, Catie Keogh, Daphne Ortiz, Erica Stimac, Jeff Conway, new Cubs manager, Dale Sveum, and owners Tom and Todd Ricketts among others.

The evening raised over $80,000 for the Wood Family Foundation which launched in June 2011 and is dedicated to improving the lives of children in and around Chicago by raising funds and awareness for children's charities.

Freelance writer Candace Jordan is involved with many local organizations, including some whose events she covers.

Click here to see photos from the event.

Find Candace Jordan's blog at CandidCandace.com.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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