Bolingbrook Lions Club, Tailgaters team up to assist tornado victims

Published: Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013 12:14 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Dec. 13, 2013 12:42 a.m. CDT
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Erica Benson-ebenson@shawmedia.com Lions Club 3rd Vice President Jim Pathla and President Paul Benetazzo prepare food during the Bears game at Tailgaters while participating in efforts to raise money for the recent storm victims in Coal City and Washington on Monday night.
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Erica Benson-ebenson@shawmedia.com James Schmitt makes his dinner plate while participating in the Lions Club fundraiser at Tailgaters Monday night.
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Erica Benson-ebenson@shawmedia.com Lions Club member Magaret Hegber sells raffle tickets to Bolingbrook resident Marion Quigley alongside her son Kellen during the fundraiser held at Tailgaters to raise money for the recent storm victims in Coal City and Washington.

BOLINGBROOK – More than a hundred orange-and-navy clad fans filled Tailgaters on Monday to cheer on their football team and raise money for tornado relief efforts in southern Illinois.

After all was said and done, the local residents parlayed a 45-28 Bears’ victory with $1,800 in generated funds and donations. The proceeds will soon be donated to a relief agency in either Washington or Coal City, two communities ravaged by a series of deadly tornadoes Nov. 17.

The Bolingbrook Lions Club hosted the fundraiser during the Chicago Bears-Dallas Cowboys Monday Night Football Game from 6 to 10 p.m. at the local sports bar.

Teaming up with the Tailgaters Bar and Grill staff, Lions Club board members manned a barbecue outside of the bar, grilling brats and steak sandwiches for more than 100 philanthropic sports fans.

All the proceeds from the food sales and a raffle – plus multiple donations from residents and Tailgaters ownership – amounted to $1,800, which then will be donated to tornado victims and their
families.

Fundraiser coordinator and longtime resident Ray Macri was elated by the outpouring of support from the Bolingbrook community, explaining that Lions members anticipated raising a couple hundred dollars.

“This is an amazing turnout, especially when you factor in the frigid weather,” Macri said. “This motto of the Lions Club is to serve. Primarily we serve our Bolingbrook community, but when something tragic like this occurs, we want to help in any way possible.”

The disaster relief fundraiser originally started as a fundraiser for the bar, which had been instrumental in assisting the local nonprofit over the years, Macri said.

But, when the tornado hit, Tailgaters Owner Bob Zalewski and the Lions board knew they had to quickly alter their event plans.

“These are our neighbors,” Macri said. “There are so many people in need and we felt it was our duty to assist the relief efforts.”

The Bolingbrook Lions have yet to designate a specific fund that will receive the relief money, but Macri said that they will hash out specifics in the coming week.

For more information on the Bolingbrook Lions Club, visit www.bolingbrooklions.org.

For more information on Tailgaters Sports Bar and Grill, go to www.tailgatersgrill.com.

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