L.A. Rams quarterback Jim Everett was honored Tuesday at a banquet hosted by the CHOC Padrinos, a men's support group of Childrens Hospital of Orange County. The $100-per-person benefit drew 450 men and half a dozen women to the Irvine Marriott for silent and live auctions, a steak dinner and a few surprising moments of unchecked emotion when Everett accepted his Sportsman of the Year award. Roasted Master of ceremonies John Robinson--a.k.a. the Rams' coach--gave the business-suited crowd a 15-minute pep talk larded with quarterback quips. (Everett soaked it in from a front row seat, where he sat with his girlfriend, Kristina Beatty, his smiling face upturned to his boss).
"I look out at this group and I'm reminded of my team (meetings)," joked Robinson. "The left side of the room's drunk. The middle of the room's asleep. The right side is too dumb to know what's going on.
"Jim always sits on the right side of the room," the coach added.
Robinson noted happily that he had not won the centerpiece on his banquet table--one of the Everett-signed gym shoes plunked unappetizingly amid salad plates and wine glasses and coffee cups. "Imagine me going home, 'Honey, look what I won! Jim Everett's shoe!' " Robinson said. His advice to the winners: "Bury the damn thing in the yard."
Winning, of course, was Robinson's theme--why the Rams didn't win their way to the Super Bowl, how they were going to win seasons yet unplayed. The key to all that winning and would-be winning, said Robinson, is Jim Everett. "He epitomizes success." Prime Time After guests watched a video montage of Everett's moves on the field and a recent tour through CHOC, the quarterback stepped up to the podium. He flicked a few punch lines back at his coach. Then he started to talk about the children he'd visited in the hospital.
"These kids are fighting for life," Everett said, his voice thickening with emotion. "Some of these kids might not make it to tomorrow. . . . I'm sorry to break down like this," he said, wiping his reddened eyes.
For several tear-filled minutes, Everett braved his way through his heartfelt message of hope, ending to a standing ovation as he presented Padrinos president Richard Sparrow with a personal check for lifetime membership to the group. The Big Check Earlier in the program, Sparrow made his own check presentation: $200,000 to Mel Miller, president of the CHOC Foundation, and Howard Jones, chairman of the board of CHOC. The check--one of those poster-sized mock-ups --represented net proceeds from a year of the Padrinos' fund-raising events. It is the second of five such checks the group plans to donate annually to help underwrite a new neonatal intensive care unit. Other Guys Glen Allen, chairman of the benefit, led a banquet committee that included Sid Adler, Jeff Morris, Tim Redmond, Jay Brown, Kelly Munson, Tim Scanlon, Doug Forde, Ed Slater, Noel Wells and Dave Parsonage.
Attending cocktail hour but gone by dinner: Dr. Ragnar Amlie, of CHOC's critical care unit, with Aaron Cunningham, 12, of Yorba Linda; Eddie Arrioja, 10, of Orange; and Sonya Paulik, 13, of Anaheim. All three children have cystic fibrosis and have been patients at CHOC.