Chicago legends fight for charity

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Chicago legends Gale Sayers and Mike Ditka’s charities benefited from Neal Wilkinson’s annual Legends Fight Night Thursday evening at the Chicago Illumination Company.

Legends Fight Night is an annual event that raises money for certain charities. The event was to feature five Golden Glove amateur fights, but the rain prevented that from happening. However, that didn’t stop money from being raised.

This year the Gale Sayers’ Resource Center and Mike Ditka’s Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund were Wilkinson’s choice.

“This is the one time of the year that is reflective for me and the reason I’m involved with this and have done this is because I feel like have to give something back,” said Wilkinson, as he addressed the crowd. “These are great causes we are honoring here today,” said Wilkinson.

“We wanted to identify charities that are lesser known, underserved, and maybe not in the mainstream.”

Various athletes and notable people were in attendance including former NBA player Antoine Walker and Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

“When I first got traded the first thing I wanted to do is make an impact in the community,” Marshall said. “To be here tonight and mingle with some of the key figures in the community is always special.”

Also in attendance was Showtime Boxing commentator Al Bernstein. Bernstein, who was celebrating his 30th year of commentating, lived in Chicago for the first 36 years and was glad to be back to celebrate the event’s cause.

“I’m thrilled and honored to be here,” said Bernstein. “The Gridiron Greats is so wonderful because we all know that the players that benefit from that really need it.”

The Gale Sayers’ Resource Center is a non-profit organization that helps educate Chicago area youth. Over the years they have worked with various schools including Vanderpool, one of the top schools in the Chicago area, said foundation’s director Doris Odom.

The Gridiron Greats Assistance fund is also a non-profit organization that helps former NFL players receive financial grants and ‘pro bono’ medical assistance. Mike Ditka said that “people don’t realize that are 25 years younger than me that are a lot worse. When you start feeling problems of dementia at that age, that’s pretty scary.”