ALGONQUIN – Daniel Khoury relished the opportunity to bowl with wide receiver Johnny Knox and other members of the Chicago Bears at a charity event in Algonquin on Monday.
“It’s a good time hanging out with them,” the 8-year-old from Cary said.
Dozens of fans like Daniel turned out for a charity fundraiser at Brunswick Zone XL with Knox and offensive tackle Lance Louis. Several other players showed up to help, including Devin Hester, Caleb Hanie, Roberto Garza, Gabe Carimi, D.J. Moore, Patrick Trahan and Kahlil Bell.
The event was a chance for fans to get photos, autographs, and a few laughs with the players. For many, it was a rare treat.
“It’s really cool to be able to talk to them and hang out with them like this,” said Adam Danzig, 14, of Highland Park, who shared a lane with Hanie and others.
Through Knox’s foundation, Johnny’s Opportunity Knox, the event raised more $100,000 to help families in New Orleans and Africa. Proceeds were split between the players’ causes.
Louis raised money to provide children with free football camps and encourage them to participate in sports-related activities. Knox raised money to dig water wells in drought-stricken Africa and provide hearing aids and medical treatment.
In March, Knox and several athletes and celebrities plan to travel to Africa to donate the money.
“I got involved after hearing about the trips and seeing what they did,” Knox said. “I wanted to be a part of something special.”
For Hanie, the event was an opportunity to help his teammates and have fun with fans.
“Johnny and Lance do so much for charity, I came to support them,” he said.
The annual fundraiser was hosted by the Burgess family.
“It’s a good thing whenever you can help people in need of assistance,” said John Burgess, who has helped organize similar events for many years. “Those of us who like sports, really like sports. And this is a wonderful opportunity and a wonderful cause.”
In addition to dinner and bowling with the players, more than a dozen items were auctioned off for charity. Wayne Jett, of Sideline Martketing, had initially hoped to raise $150,000 to $200,000. However, several of the auction items sold for less than expected, including a $6,200 diamond ring that went for $2,000. Still, Jett said strong turnout made the event a success and brought in more than $100,000 for the charities.