The San Francisco 49ers, along with the San Jose Sharks, San Jose Earthquakes, and Oakland Athletics, joined together Tuesday afternoon in downtown San Jose for the Spirit of Santa Clara Valley Luncheon. The event, which was hosted by the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, showcased the impact and spirit that professional sports bring to the region.
The luncheon began with a rousing and humorous performance from the San Jose Children's Musical Theater, in which the talented young performers sang a song about Silicon Valley's favorite teams to the tune of The Sound of Music's My Favorite Things. The 49ers very own Sourdough Sam, along with the other three team's mascots, quickly joined the onstage fun, paving the way to a lively afternoon.
Chamber President and CEO Matthew Mahood opened the luncheon with a passionate introduction about the impact the four teams bring to the San Jose/Silicon Valley region, stating, "We are very fortunate here in the Silicon Valley to have at our fingertips the best of everything, and that includes professional sports. The Spirit of Santa Clara Valley, which is the spirit of giving and the support of the community, has always been generous in its support, even when times are tough."
The combination of service represented by the four teams in attendance amounted to over 1,000 hours of community service, more than 300 events throughout San Jose and the Bay Area community, and millions of dollars in monetary donations to local nonprofit organizations just in the past year. NBC Bay Area's Raj Mathai, who was the emcee for the event, reiterated the importance of the teams' generosity and the excitement experienced through community involvement.
"You don't just feel the excitement on game days, but there is also an excitement and halo effect in the community," Mathai said. "It's the community service these teams provide. Collectively, they've given millions of dollars to local charities and made a huge impact on education programs for kids and families throughout the Silicon Valley."
The 49ers Foundation, which helps to *Keep Kids Safe, On Track and In School, *has played a significant role in those figures, donating over $10 million since 2002, with nearly 90 percent of players participating in at least one community event in 2010. In 2010, the team contributed nearly 500 hours of community service at 48 events, serving thousands of youth throughout the Bay Area community.
Along with representatives from each of the other teams, joining the event from the 49ers were alumni Guy McIntyre, Steve Bono and Dennis Brown, and the most recent 49er to hang up his cleats, Joe Nedney.
Nedney, who is a Bay Area native, shared his thoughts on the importance of the event, which represents all the support the teams and athletes bring to the community and to each other.
"Being from the South Bay, growing up in San Jose, giving back in this region is very important to me," he said. "Having played for the 49ers and in the NFL for as long as I have, we're in a position to do so much for the community, so I'm happy and proud to be here."
The event concluded with a grant issued to each of the teams' foundations from the San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber Community Education Foundation to recognize their contributions to the community.
Photo courtesy of SanJoseStock.com