Sarah Wood, wife of former Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood. | Ramzi Dreessen/Sun-Times Splash
Updated: September 9, 2013 6:52AM
I was raised in Waukegan in a very diverse environment. I listened to old-school hip-hop, attended my fair share of quinceaneras and was exposed to different cultures, foods and traditions. Waukegan shaped me. It raised a daughter who wants to teach tolerance, respond to need and fight for others.
At the age of 21, I met a boy from Texas who swept me off my feet. I could tell instantly that he shared all of my passions — two of them being Chicago and its kids.
In 2011, Kerry and I decided that we were going to dedicate our lives to making a difference in four of the city’s neediest neighborhoods: Englewood, Humboldt Park, Austin and Lawndale. So we created the Wood Family Foundation.
Englewood was the first neighborhood that we were drawn to. In 2011, we participated in the Safe Haven Anti-Violence Event, where mothers and grandmothers gathered to rally for peace. What you see on the news is a poor representation of the heart of Englewood. There are some incredible fighters there — they’re fighting for their community, for the children and for change. Hearing them chant “Stop the violence” is something I will never forget.
Last month, Kerry and I held our second annual Wood Family Foundation Baseball Clinic in Englewood. More than 100 of the children from the previous year returned. How their faces lit up when we called them all by name. We had lots of laughs, played ball and talked about dreams — and about not giving up.
At our first clinic, I met a girl named Sarah who out-ran every boy at our clinic. I pushed her to try out for track and told her how much I believed in her, how she could do anything. When she returned this year, I was so relieved to see that she was safe and thriving. I know I will worry about her every day until I see her next year. So Kerry and I will continue to fight and give all we can to make a difference for Sarah and others like her.
It doesn’t take much to make a difference for those who are depending on you. I just think of the mothers and grandmothers in Englewood, the survivors fighting for peace. Maybe one day I will turn on the TV and see my track star, Sarah, or one of our neighborhood children running for office and fighting — like someone did once for them.
To support the Wood Family Foundation, purchase tickets ($15 for adults, $8 for kids 12 and under) to Woody’s Wiffle Ball Classic at Wrigley, where celebs like Bill Murray, Matthew Perry and Jenny McCarthy will compete against each other in the “Wiffle For a Diffle” evening game. Aug. 10; Woodfamilyfoundation.org.