The 49ers Foundation held one of its largest fundraising events this past weekend at the Resort at Squaw Creek in Olympic Village, Calif., raising the most money in the event’s 11-year history.
The 49ers annual Winter Fest, sponsored by Thomson Reuters, raised over $ 1 million for the Foundation which goes directly to helping the lives of at-risk youth in the Bay Area.
When asked what keeps this event a great success year in and year out 49ers Co-Chairman Dr. John York couldn’t single out just one, but offered a variety of reasons.
“I think everybody has a great time; number two is that it’s for a great cause, it’s for the 49ers Foundation to keep Bay Area youth ‘Safe, on Track, and in School’; the third reason is because it is family oriented and there are very few things out there that are a business, charity weekend where kids come. We had more children here than we ever have had before and we actually had more people participating than ever before. And the vintners are a big part of this as well.”
Despite the stormy weather and obstacles many faced getting up to the snow for the weekend, Coach Jim Harbaugh joined York, President & CEO Jed York, General Manager Trent Baalke, defensive line coach Jim Tomsula and running backs coach and 49ers alumnus Tom Rathman at the three-day event.
Former 49ers Dwight Clark, Eric Davis, Eric Wright, Dennis Brown, Greg Clark, Guy McIntyre, Jamie Williams, J.J. Stokes, Ray Norton, and Keena Turner were also in attendance. They were joined by Olympians Jeff Hamilton, John Benton, Kirsten Clark-Rickenbach, Kristin Krone, Peggy Fleming, Debi Thomas, Tamara McKinney, Marco Sullivan, and Tracy Sachtjen.
Guests were treated to a jam-packed weekend of day-time events in addition to evening wine tastings and dinners featuring both silent and live auctions to raise money for the Foundation.
New to this year’s event were curling sessions. The first was on Friday morning where Olympic curlers Benton and Sachtjen taught the guests the basics of the sport. The second took place on Saturday morning when Harbaugh and Baalke joined. On Friday, Harbaugh and Baalke got together and decided to add another live auction into the mix to give four guests the opportunity to curl with the two of them and the Olympians the following morning.
Team Harbaugh won the match 2-0 and even though Baalke’s team didn’t come out with the victory, they still enjoyed the competitive match.
“It’s just a lot of fun being out here, a great cause, it’s a lot of fun,” said Baalke. “I love competing in anything and as does he (Harbaugh) so it was a lot of fun and again, a good cause.”
During the day, attendees had the opportunity to take part in a skate-a-long with Olympians Peggy Fleming and Debi Thomas, admire Super Bowl rings from the many alumni who were sporting them throughout the weekend. That was in addition to the wine and food pairing seminar with celebrated chef Clay Reynolds of COCO500 and the Moss Room, a wine tasting with the owners of Fleury Estate Winery and of course, the always popular, Chalk Talk.
The Chalk Talk featured Harbaugh, Tomsula and Rathman breaking down film and strategy to the guests to give them a better perspective of football through a coach’s eye. A highlight of the talk was of course Harbaugh and his enthusiasm to simply just talk football but also when Rathman was demonstrating technique with a guest who stood up and went eye to eye with him.
Rathman looked him dead in the eyes and said, “If you want to go, we can go.” Right then and there, the coach made it clear that even though his playing days are over, there’s no doubt he could suit up and hit just as hard as he did when he was on the field.
Once the day-time events were over, the vintners took the stage each night for a wine tasting and silent auction reception where guests could bid on a variety of auction items. The most notable included a signed Michael Crabtree cleats, “The Catch” football where alumnus Dwight Clark drew the play on a football and he and Joe Montana signed the ball, to 49ers experiences and trips throughout the country and many more.
Guests then moved into the grand ballroom where they were treated to some of the best wine in Sonoma and Napa, gourmet dinners and motivational speeches from Dr. York, Jed York, Harbaugh, 49ers Foundation Director Joanne Pasternack and 49ers Academy Principal Gina Sudaria.
Following the dinner each night, 49ers Total Access Joe Fonzi emceed the live auction where guests stepped up and donated great amounts for the 49ers Foundation.
On Saturday night, all the coaches and Baalke got into the action and took over a microphone to help raise the bid amounts which must have worked as Saturday helped raise over $ 70,000 more than the previous night.
A few of the highest items included a trip for two to the London Olympics in 2012, a group dinner with Harbaugh at the House of Prime Rib and a trip to Baja which ended up turning into three trips to Baja courtesy of Jack Richardson who donated the item. He decided to triple the trip and allow three different winners to go at different times to raise even more money for the Foundation.
Both Friday and Saturday night had first-class entertainment following dinner with Friday featuring magician Michael Grasso and Saturday with Third Eye Blind member Stephan Jenkins.
Saturday night also featured the “49ers Boxes” event which gave guests the opportunity to buy a 49ers Box for $ 249 apiece with the chance to win an $ 11,300 Rolex Submariner watch or a $ 17,000 diamond earrings and floral diamond pendant, both from Kerns Fine Jewelry. Courtesy of Chevron, each participate also had the chance to win Chevron gas cards including two at $ 500 card and various lower amounts.
Throughout both nights, the silent and live auctions and 49ers Boxes raised over $ 400,000 for the 49ers Foundation and the weekend event’s total number of over $ 1 million was higher than any other year in the event’s history.
“We want to thank everyone who participated and donated towards this year’s event, from the vintners to the celebrities to the individuals who contributed to the cause,” said Dr. York. “The amount raised at this year’s event will enable us to continue to improve the quality of life for the youth in the Bay Area, and further our mission of keeping kids ‘Safe, on Track, and in School.’”
Under the direction of Denise and John York, the 49ers Foundation has raised and distributed over $ 10 million to non-profit organizations in the Bay Area over the last seven years. Last year alone, the Foundation distributed over $ 1.8 million to organizations including Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY), 49ers Academy and the Bay View Hunter’s Point YMCA, among others.
The 49ers Foundation would like to extend a big THANK YOU to their supporting sponsors which include Presenting Sponsor Thomson Reuters; Gold Sponsors BlackRock, Bud Light, Chevron, Franklin Templeton, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Resort at Squaw Creek, and Visa; Silver Sponsors Avenir Restaurant Group, Dreyfus, Karbon, Kerns Fine Jewelry, Mission West Properties, PG&E, Potter Electric and World Events Group; Bronze Sponsors Frank Crystal & Company, Radiate Group, RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) Capital Markets, Wells Fargo Bank and Young & Rubican. p>
They would also like to thank the product donations from Anheuser-Busch, Avenir Restaurant Group, Cartan Tours, Chevron, Coca-Cola, E&J Gallo Winery, Gatorade, Glen Hlavacek, Hertz Corporation, Karbon, Kerns Fine Jewelry, Maui Jim Sunglasses, See’s Candies, Sharp Business Systems, SportsMark and U.S. Bank.
And last but not least, the 49ers Foundation would also like thank the vintners who poured throughout the weekend including Blackbird Vineyards, D.R. Stephens Estate, Ferrari-Carano Vineyards, Fleming Jenkins Vineyard & Winery, Fleury Estate Winery, HdV Wines, Husic Vineyards, Kosta Browne Winery, Melka Wines, Mi Sueño Winery, Pahlmeyer, Papapietro Perry Winery, Pride Mountain Vineyards, Revana Family Vineyard, Reynolds Family Winery, Robert Foley Vineyards, Spring Mountain Vineyard, Stewart Cellars, Three Monkeys Wine, Trefethen Family Vineyards, VIADER and William Cole Wineyards.
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