The 24th annual Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards, held earlier this month at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, raised more than $720,000 for the March of Dimes – a new record for the sports soiree.
Athletes including Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer, Cubs reliever Kerry Wood, Fire defenseman Logan Pause and Bears wide receiver Earl Bennett were honored before a sold-out crowd of more than 1,300 guests.
The evening began with cocktails, as partygoers scrambled to get their photos taken with their athletic idols. Honorees happily obliged as they signed memorabilia and smiled for the cameras. Other sports stars seen mingling with fans included Blackhawks legend Tony Esposito, former Bulls center and current CSN Chicago analyst Stacey King and White Sox great Minnie Minoso.
Guests enjoyed a quick dinner of grilled filet of beef before plates were cleared and cameras began rolling for the live telecast of the program on Comcast SportsNet. Steve Dahl made an affable emcee, beginning the show with a hilarious video of him and Esposito on the ice, with the retired goalie struggling to teach him the basics of the game–and keep him on his feet.
White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez and Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford also were recognized but were unable to attend. Ramirez was tending to a family emergency, while Crawford was traveling to Nashville for a game. Both taped video acceptance speeches and heartily thanked their family, friends and fans for their support.
A special award was given to 16-year-old Tywaun Crain, a high school sophomore and wheelchair basketball star who was born with cerebral palsy yet manages to excel in both sports and school. Crain was awarded the “Inspirational Athlete” prize while his family, including his 8-year-old brother David, looked on with pride.
The get-together attracted not just sports stars and their fans but politicos including City Treasurer Stephanie Neely and business bigwigs including Comcast SportsNet CEO Jim Corno and Navistar CEO Dan Ustain, who also acted as chairman for the event.