CHICAGO The fifth annual fund-raiser known as “Kerry Wood’s Strike Zone Celebrity Bowling Tournament” was held Wednesday at 10pin Bowling Lounge. Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood and his wife, Sarah, host the benefit every year to raise money for various local charities. This year’s proceeds went to the Organic School Project (OSP), Chicago caterer Greg Christian’s initiative to integrate a curriculum in the Chicago Public Schools to help educate children about healthy lifestyles and environmental stewardship.
Production group Company 20 and approximately 30 volunteers had eight weeks to plan and produce the event. “Coordinating the auction items was a tremendous task, but so important to the event’s success,“ said Company 20 rep Lil Amatore. “Add celebrities, and we're talking lots of moving parts to manage.”
The festivities started at 6:30 p.m. with a “draw party” at Hotel Sax, located next door to 10pin in the Marina City complex. Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper served as the master of ceremonies, while corporate sponsors, including BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, the Chicago Blackhawks, and 1000 AM-ESPN, each drew the name of a celebrity team captain. Shortly following the selection process, formal introductions by the Woods, Kasper, and Christian kicked off the tournament at 10pin, which utilized all of the venue's 22 lanes. Plasma screens directly above the lanes flashed logos and information on the event's sponsors.
Aside from the staging and lighting services provided by Ivan Carlson & Associates, 10pin was used as-is. Eating areas adjacent to the lanes provided seating for guests, while the martini lounge (a semiprivate space next to the bar) housed food stations with dishes such as mac and cheese and sliders from 10pin's catering, as well as comfort food faves like Gino’s East pizza, Vienna hot dogs, and Bobtail ice cream.
An extensive silent auction selection was—no surprise—heavily focused on baseball memorabila. Highlighted items up for bid included an official Wrigley Field on-deck circle autographed by the 2008 Cubs team, a chance to attend a Cubs game with celebrity fan John Cusack, and a shot at throwing a ceremonial first pitch at Wrigley Field next season. The bowling shoe check-out counter became a bidding station for the evening, and a large plasma screen tracked progress from the silent auction. An online component of the auction (using patent-pending interactive auction technology on www.events.org) went live worldwide on July 29 and closed at midnight last Tuesday. The Web version carried over to the event, where proxies represented online bidders. Proceeds from the silent auction increased the benefit's proceeds by 60 percent over last year.
Participating bowlers left the event carrying gift bags with donated items, including gift certificates from local restaurants such as Harry Carry’s, Steppenwolf Theater tickets and Don Julio tequila. Each guest also left with a Kerry Wood autographed mini Louisville Slugger bat that included the Kerry Wood Strike Zone and Organic School Project logos.