McHENRY – As a football player, Mike Singletary was known for his dependability. His skill at making a tackle. His intense stare as he zeroed-in on the ball and followed it during plays.
That crucial trait on the field is even more critical in daily life, the former Bears linebacker told a crowd of about 400 Saturday.
Singletary spoke at the kickoff event for a recently formed nonprofit organization, T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Assists McHenry County) Community organization.
A captive audience listened intently as Singletary described some of the darker moments of his childhood: his father walking out at age 12 and divorcing his mother, and then his older brother, Grady, dying in a car accident that same year.
The pain he felt at that age was severe.
But he worked through it, “digging deep” to develop what he described as a vision statement.
“If you have a goal, that’s fine. But if you have a vision, that’s going to allow you to move from one level to the next,” Singletary said. “Once you get a vision, then write your goals.”
Singletary, head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, also addressed the importance of setting a good example for others, especially children, spouses and teammates.
“Every one of you in this audience, someone is following you,” he said. “The one question I would have is what are you giving them to follow?”
The event was held at McHenry West High School and served as the first fundraiser for T.E.A.M.
Founder Wayne Jett, owner of Jett’s Heating and Air and a friend of Singletary’s family, said proceeds from the event and other fundraisers would help McHenry County residents who were struggling to pay their bills.
Money raised by T.E.A.M. will be given to the McHenry Township office, which will be accepting applications from McHenry County residents who need help paying their bills.
“Once we get the word out there and try to make these events even more successful, I think we’ll be helping out hundreds of families,” Jett said.
Jett said Singletary was a “phenomenal” choice for the inaugural event because of his reputation as a man of strong, moral character.
Many attendees agreed.
Crystal Lake resident Kyle Slack, who attended the event wearing a Bears jersey, said the talk was motivating.
“Mike is just so genuine in what he does,” said Slack, 21.
Gary Lechner, who attended with his brother and nephew, said Singletary’s speech conveyed the most positive aspects of athletics.
“We need more people like him around,” said Lechner, 49. “That’s what it should be about; not about the fame, cars.”