Paul Konerko on how he’s helping support Chicago’s children and families in need
By PAUL KONERKO March 20, 2013 4:17PM
Paul Konerko and Gordon Beckham host CH+A children and families at a 2012 White Sox game. | Ron Vesely~Chicago White Sox
Updated: March 20, 2013 4:39PM
As another opening day approaches, I can’t help but look back on my career and realize how fortunate I am to be starting my 15th season with the Chicago White Sox. There are not many Major League players, especially today, who can say they have spent nearly a decade and a half with the same organization.
Though I grew up in Arizona, Chicago feels like home to my entire family. I suppose part of that is because we’ve spent so much time here, but it’s also because of the continued support from the city’s great sports fans and community.
Lending support and giving back to that community is not an option — it is a responsibility that comes with being part of the Sox family. That’s the mentality that has been preached and executed by team Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, and it truly extends to every player in uniform. Throughout my career, I’ve witnessed many of the organizations and people who’ve benefited from Chicago White Sox Charities.
Seven years ago, with that in mind, I sought a community outreach program I could feel passionate about, and found one that was an ideal fit. My wife Jenn and I, along with our three children, have all found the comforts of home in Chicago, and we identified a program that helps children throughout Illinois find the same.
In 2007, along with Jim Thome and his family, we partnered with Children’s Home + Aid, a leading social service agency in Illinois. For 130 years, Children’s Home + Aid has paved the way by establishing best practices in child welfare. Today, they continue to be recognized as a leading provider of quality programs and services that help more than 40,000 children and families throughout Illinois.
Together, we created the Bring Me Home Campaign, which raises support for foster children and their families through public awareness, advocacy and fundraising efforts. Thus far, with generous support from donors and fans, we have been able to raise nearly $400,000 to benefit those served by Children’s Home + Aid.
We recruited my teammate and second baseman Gordon Beckham to fill in for the Thome family when Jim’s time with the White Sox was over. Gordon is just like Jim — minus some muscle and 563 career home runs!
Kidding aside, foster care is a cause that will always be close to our hearts. Jenn’s parents are foster parents, so I have seen firsthand the amazingly positive influence foster care has had in the lives of others.
We are now entering the seventh year of the partnership, and I could not be more proud of the support we have been able to provide, which has been made possible through the generous support of White Sox fans. Our hope is that even more fans will support the campaign with me and Gordon to make 2013 the best year yet.
As for our campaign on the field, we want to have the best year there as well — hopefully one that ends with another parade through downtown Chicago in late October.
Paul Konerko donated his fee for writing this column to Children’s Home + Aid. Support the Bring Me Home Campaign by visiting Childrenshomeandaid.org.