For most, the arrival of training camp is marked with the smell of sweet, fresh-cut grass; for the 49ers Faithful it's the wafting aromas of pasta and wine accompanied by 90 players donning aprons while serving dishes to their Faithful fans. Pasta Bowl, the annual 49ers Foundation charity fundraiser event, marks the beginning of 49ers training camp. The unique atmosphere of the event creates a fun and relaxed environment for fan and player engagement while also raising funds to support the 49ers Foundation.
"It's great coming out here and seeing all the fans and people who support you," said TE/DT Demarcus Dobbs. "We're about to head into camp, practice starts tomorrow. Just going into camp after an event like this is an extra incentive, an extra edge just to go out and perform for all your supporters and everyone that is rooting for you to win."
"It's an incredible event," said Gideon Yu, 49ers President. "The atmosphere is electric; it feels like you are back from the first day of school from summer school vacation. You get all your great friends from the team, the coaches, everyone is back together again for a great cause. It's wonderful."
Not only does Pasta Bowl draw fans and players together, it supports the philanthropic side of the 49ers organization, the 49ers Foundation. The 49ers Foundation's mission is to keep kids "Safe, On Track, and In School." Throughout the year, the Foundation supports the Bay Area through donations and involvement with several organizations. This involvement reaches all levels of the 49ers organization, from the staff, to coaches, players, management, and owners.
"On the community side, the statistic we are most proud of is that we have one hundred percent player participation in community events during the course of the year," said Joanne Pasternack, 49ers Foundation Executive Director. "The players are incredible, and tonight is a great example of that. Every guy who is currently on the roster is here tonight to celebrate Pasta Bowl and help raise money for our charities. We are also joined by our coaches, ownership, and our senior executives. This is truly a 49ers family event."
Each year, the Foundation partners with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group to select two beneficiaries to honor. "For the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the San Francisco 49ers Foundation, this has been a partnership since the beginning because we share common goals; we want to build community, support wonderful charities, and show that in Silicon Valley the folks that have such a principle role in showing competition to the rest of the world also care about the communities in which we do business," said Carl Guardino, President and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. "For the past several years we have agreed on two great charities, FLY which is Fresh Lifelines for Youth and City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley. They reflect what we care about at the Leadership group, what the Foundation cares about which is keeping kids in school, on track, and ready to succeed. We pick schools and kids with little opportunity and disadvantaged circumstances and do our best to help lift them up."
Each beneficiary received a check for $75,000 to benefit their organization. "We are so honored," said Christa Gannon, FLY Founder and Executive Director. "The San Francisco 49ers were the first corporate sponsor for FLY and have been with us for over 10 years. For us, working with kids in the juvenile justice system, we believe that every child deserves a chance to become more than their past mistakes, to be here tonight and have the 49ers say to us that yes, we believe that too and we want to invest in your kids and help them be their very best selves. It's amazing, it's really humbling."
"Tonight's event was a great opportunity to continue our partnership with the 49ers who have been instrumental in helping us keep kids in school and on track in San Jose," said Toni Schwarzenbach Burke, Executive Director and Vice President of City Year San Jose, Silicon Valley. "Coming to an event with over a thousand people and highlighting the work that we do is wonderful, it helps builds our visibility and helps raise awareness for the kids in San Jose who are falling out of school, off track, and at risk of dropping out."
The proceeds gathered from the event will continue to benefit the local community long after the tables are cleared. "The money we raised tonight is going towards funding an entire school," said Burke. "The school we are thinking of is Cureton Elementary school which is on the east side of San Jose. There are 600 kids who go there and the money will fund all 600 kids, all day, every day. From 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. they'll get one-on-one tutoring, small group tutoring, and they'll get interventions in math and literacy, attendance and behavior, and we extend the learning time from 2 to 6 p.m."
The 49ers Foundation truly believes in the beneficiaries' causes and continuously works hand-in-hand with them throughout the year. "We do a lot of work with the 49ers," said Gannon. "Players come to juvenile hall and teach kids who are incarcerated through their PLAY 60 fitness and nutrition program, which is fantastic. The 49ers sponsor our young people and their mentors to go to a football game, sometimes it's our kids' very first professional sporting event that they've ever attended. The 49ers staff serves as thought partners for us, supporters for us. We feel really privileged to be working with an organization that really lives it values and practices its values every day in the community."
This year the 49ers Foundation also took a moment to honor devoted Foundation supporter, Jan Boehm, commonly known as Niner Jan. "Three years ago, Jan passed away due to cancer," said John York, 49ers Co-Chairman. "She was a great friend. She brought homemade cookies to the players. She was always with us. She was a very simple woman. She lived frugally, but she cheered loudly. At her funeral, we learned and very humbly and honorably accepted the fact that she named the 49ers Foundation in her will. Little did we know, Niner Jan was not only a fan and a supporter of the 49ers Foundation, but she had quite an estate and part of that estate was earmarked for the 49ers Foundation to support the 49ers Foundation mission to keep kids 'Safe, On Track, and In School.' So, tonight is also in memory of Jan and all of our other supporters here and throughout the Bay Area, but particularly the Santa Clara Boosters Club."
Pasta Bowl VII topped preceding efforts. "This year was our most successful year ever;" said Pasternack, "it sold out in record time, in fact so quickly that we had the Santa Clara Convention Center add an extra row of tables to accommodate all of the people who wanted to be a part of it."
Pasta Bowl could not have been a success without the dedication of the SanDisk Corporation. "SanDisk is really honored to be the partnering sponsor for the event tonight," said Tom Baker, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at SanDisk Corporation. "It's wonderful that we can all combine and really help out kids in our community. SanDisk has had a long history of helping the community and helping children has been one of our core focus areas. It's really wonderful that we can partner with the 49ers to align our common interests and help kids in the community."
"Our employees look forward to this event every year. It's really terrific to have that interaction with the players and this season looks to be a really great one. Go Niners!"
*A special thank you to our generous sponsors – Presenting Sponsor, SanDisk; Reception Sponsor, U.S. Bank; Championship Sponsors Visa, Turner Construction, BlackRock, AdvanTel, HGST and Avnet; Pro Bowl Sponsors Devcon, See's Candies, FedEx, and Berg & Berg; Touchdown Sponsors: Kaiser Permanente, Virgin America, and Future Energy Corporation; and Field Goal Sponsors: Nelson Staffing, 95.7 The Game, Gordon Biersch, XO Communications, UnitedHealthcare and Optum, SYNNEX, Aviat Networks, Franklin Templeton, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Santa Clara Convention Center, Pepsi, Brocade, Silicon Valley Bank, Intel, Sun Power, M.E. Fox & Company, Mary Ellen & Michael E. Fox Family Foundation, Estate of Jan Boehm, Lockheed Martin, OCZ Technology, SAP, Infinera, Centerplate, and Palo Alto Medical Foundation. *
We are also so grateful to our vintner sponsors: Arkenstone Vineyards, Burgess Cellars, Conn Valley Vineyards & Ghost Horse Vineyards, Farm Collective Napa Valley, Frazier Winery, Freeman Vineyard & Winery, Hartwell Estate Vineyards, JAX Vineyards, Pine Ridge Vineyards, Red Mare Wines, Rocca Family Vineyards, Roche Winery & Vineyards, Sbragia Family Vineyards, Scribe Winery, and Ziata Wines.
Finally, thank you to our event product donors: Almaden Press, Bloomsters, Bud Light, Pepsi, Forbes Mill Steakhouse, Gordon Biersch, Gallo Family Vineyards, Jack Daniel's, M.E. Fox & Company Inc., Pizza Party, SanDisk, Sonoma Tanning, and Theme Party Productions.