The San Francisco 49ers Foundation and Hedge Funds Care hosted the 8th Annual West Coast "Open Your Heart to the Children Benefit" at The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco on Wednesday, March 11 to raise funds to address the prevention and treatment of child abuse in the Bay Area.
San Francisco 49ers Owner John York, team President Jed York, General Manager Scot McCloughan, and Head Coach Mike Singletary joined current players David Baas, Thomas Clayton, Joe Nedney and Tony Wragge and alumni Guy McIntyre, Bill Ring and Jaime Williams along with 300 people from the West Coast hedge fund industry to bid on auction items, taste Napa and Sonoma's best wines and enjoy some of the best food in San Francisco.
"Clearly, the 49ers Foundation's mission is to keep kids safe, on track and in school," said 49ers Owner John York. "And the safe part is really directed towards domestic violence and the eradication of child abuse. And child abuse eradication is the whole goal of Hedge Funds Care. So we've been a part of this for eight years and over the last six years we've raised $7 million for the 49ers Foundation keeping kids safe, on track and in school and $4.1 million has been in association with Hedge Funds Care for their programs. So we've been a part of it for all that time and we're very happy to be a part of it."
Money from the event was raised through ticket sales, raffles, and a silent auction. Last year's event raised more than $1,000,000. And according to Angela Osborne of Hedge Funds Care, they have raised nearly 85% of what they did in 2008 already this year.
During the event, Dr. York, Jed York, Coach Singletary, the Co-Chair of the event and CFO of Ascend Capital, Ben Slavet, and Angela Osborne spoke to the audience about the importance of the night and thanked all for their support for the cause.
Coach Singletary, without surprise, delivered an inspirational speech, but this time it wasn't focused on football. He opened his remarks saying, "One of the things that I want you to understand: I'm not going to talk much about 49ers football. I just want you to keep your eyes open and just watch. That's all I'm going to say about the 49ers."
Singletary then went on to discuss the importance of the night.
"In terms of tonight and what it's about, as an adult I have tools that I can use to try and protect myself, to try and fight back. But as I'm standing here looking at many of the pictures that are coming up on the screens, these kids, they can't," said Singletary. He continued by saying "I'm very thankful and very proud to be here tonight. It is not disrupting my life. It's not disrupting anything because this is what being a family is all about. How can you make a difference? And in the tough times that we are in right now, you made a decision, you made the choice. You could have said, 'Let somebody else do it. Times are really tough. Not this year.' But to say we're at 85% of what we have been – it's astounding. It's absolutely astounding. So to you, from the kids, I just want to say thank you from the very bottom of my heart. Thank you very much."
49ers General Manager Scot McCloughan discussed how important it is for the 49ers to give back to the community they serve.
"I think it's very important because of where we are as 49ers," said McCloughan. "You think of it as a team but it's the whole community that's involved and that's what's so important. I want the fans to know and people out there to know that we are the 49ers – a football team – but we're also the 49ers – a community group. Whatever we can do to give back, especially in a time like this with the economy the way it is, we definitely want to."
Event co-chair Ben Slavet, said the partnership with the 49ers continues to be a blessing to raise visibility around the issue of child abuse.
"The partnership with the San Francisco 49ers has been very, very important to us," said Slavet. "Getting the support of the 49ers and the awareness in the community and the players and coaches and Dr. York and his family has been very important to our efforts over the last four years."
49ers guard Tony Wragge discussed why he believes he and others should help out the next generation of leaders during this tough time in their life.
"Anything to do with children, especially children in need – you talk about battered and abused children, it's really important that people step outside of their bubble and understand that there are children out there that need a lot of help and it takes a lot of funding to help those children and the 49ers are definitely dedicated to raising those funds to help children in need," said Wragge. "And the Hedge Funds Care Foundation has actually gotten together and done a great benefit in raising those funds along with the San Francisco 49ers."
Hedge Funds Care is an industry alliance formed in 1998 with the sole mission of raising funds to prevent and treat child abuse. To date, the group has distributed over $19 million internationally to local agencies. In addition to the event in San Francisco, Hedge Funds Care also holds events in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, London, Toronto, Cayman Islands, and New York.