Midway through training camp and just days before the 49ers preseason kicks off, the 49ers partnered with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group to host the 4th Annual Pasta Bowl Presented by SanDisk on Tuesday night.
The charity event featured several key participants including the entire 49ers team, owner Dr. John York, President/CEO Jed York, head coach Mike Singletary and several of his assistant coaches, Vice President of Player Personnel Trent Baalke, 49ers alumni and top Silicon Valley executives who all came together as celebrity waiters.
For the fourth consecutive year the event sold out, bringing nearly 1,000 guests together in support of the San Francisco 49ers Foundation. Proceeds from the Pasta Bowl benefitted Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY) and City Year; the 49ers Foundation gave $50,000 to each non-profit organization at the event.
"That's the icing on the top," Jed York said. "You've got the team coming together with all the fans, but then being able to raise money for great causes, that's really special."
Fans sat at tables of 20 with multiple celebrity servers and were treated to salad, pasta, wine, desert and one-on-one conversations with players, coaches, and Silicon Valley leaders.
After participating in Pasta Bowl for all four years, veteran running back Frank Gore commented, "Without the fans, there is no us, no 49ers. They've been 100-percent great fans since I've been here. I'm happy to enjoy the night with them, sign autographs, and especially since it's for the kids. I'm 100-percent behind that."
The event serves the fans and community, but seeing the passion from the fans also gives the players another reason to get amped up for the season.
"I can't wait for it," Gore said. "You know the feeling when Christmas is coming closer and closer, you can't wait, and you count the days down? That's how it is now. We've been having a great camp so far, we've been working, getting better. I'm just counting the days now, can't wait to kick it off."
Rookie linebacker NaVorro Bowman was also moved by the excitement generated from the event.
"The biggest thing for me is seeing the support that we're going to have for this upcoming season and how excited the fans really are," he said.
Bowman enjoyed participating in the event and he knows how much it means to the local community.
"The Pasta Bowl says a lot about the 49ers," he said. "It's not all about football. The organization cares about the community. I'm all about that, keeping kids in school and on the right track."
The 49ers Foundation is a non-profit, community-funding extension of the San Francisco 49ers. Now in its 19th year, the foundation supports development programs for underserved youth which keeps them safe, on track and in school.
Through the direction of team owners Denise and John York, the 49ers Foundation has raised and distributed more than $10 million to non-profit organizations over the last eight years. A significant portion of its funding goes toward family violence prevention programs and activities that teach youth leadership and respect.
While enjoying the night's festivities, Dr. York took time to express the importance of the team's community involvement.
"The organization sets that tone to begin with," York said. "Over 85-percent of our coaches and players participate in our community relations events as well as our 49ers Foundation events. Some guys participate in as many as 20 events during the year. So it's nice that they see that it's best to give back to the community as well."
Vintners of Sonoma and Napa Valley provided the wine, while an exclusive silent auction offered fans a unique opportunity to bid on items such as autographed jerseys from current and former players, and signed footballs. Along with the silent auction, there was a raffle for a Mike Singletary autographed helmet, complete with glass display case, as well as an "Ultimate 49ers Fan Package" which included tickets to a game, on-field access and other exclusive prizes.
Jed York was another one of the evening's celebrity waiters, and he expressed his gratitude for all the participants in attendance.
"We have so many great partners and all the vintners that have come out, SanDisk, US Bank, the people that have been huge sponsors and for a long time have been sponsors with the 49ers and with this Pasta Bowl event. You just see so many people come together, it's really amazing."
The event was fun for all ages with a youth area, an appearance from Sourdough Sam and a performance by the Gold Rush cheerleaders. Emcees Ted Robinson and former 49ers linebacker Gary Plummer welcomed guests and provided entertainment as they introduced the sponsors and players after presenting the 49ers highlight video.
After the meal, Singletary addressed the crowd in a commanding and heartfelt talk about the 49ers Foundation and the team's preparation for the upcoming season.
"I think Dr. York, Denise York and the entire family seem to be really committed to helping at-risk children and making a difference in the community. I know the thing for us is football, and that's exciting stuff, but when you really look at it, it's amazing to me how they can keep it in perspective and know what's really important."