Gold Rush Wins Big for Charity

The 49ers hosted a viewing party Wednesday night at Pizza Party in Santa Clara to cheer on 49ers Gold Rush cheerleader Amber, who participated on the NBC's Minute to Win It game show and won $125,000 for charity.

Amber donated the money to the Bay Area Women's Sports Initiative (BAWSI), a local nonprofit that creates avenues for strong, talented and accomplished female athletes and coaches to inspire girls, women and families with their leadership skills and community service. The funds will be directed through the 49ers Foundation to BAWSI to further enhance their efforts in the Bay Area.

BAWSI co-founder Marlene Bjornsrud was overjoyed about the donation their organization received as a result of Amber's participation on Minute to Win It.

"I told Amber that we are incredibly grateful, certainly, partly because the money means we get to put more great women athletes in the lives of little girls, but also because this is the kind of exposure and building awareness for a small, young nonprofit that is impossible to purchase or even to dream of," Bjornsrud said. "This is something that is far beyond anything we could have created; it is something that we accept as an incredible gift to the organization."

49ers fans, BAWSI members, 49ers Gold Rush and 49ers staff including President & CEO Jed York attended the viewing party to root for Amber.

Amber participated alongside Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Bernard Berrian for the chance to win up to $1 million for charities of their choice. They worked together to participate in a variety of contests using household goods while competing in challenges such as bouncing ping pong balls into cups, balancing eggs on footballs, and flipping spoons into cups.  Each level they completed guaranteed them more money for their charities.  

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Amber and Berrian made it through level six, where they earned the $125,000 by flipping four spoons each into four separate cups. Unfortunately, they were unable to beat level seven when tasked to bounce ping pong balls into a variety of cups filled with water into a specific design.

Although Amber wished she could have beaten all 10 levels for the $1 million, she was extremely proud to have won the amount she did for BAWSI.

"When talking to the 49ers Foundation and going through the charities, it was really important for me to give back to a charity that gives to girls and one involved with sports because I've been involved with sports and dance my whole life," Amber said. "Another one of the things that was important for me was to find a small, local charity where it would make a huge impact.

"We had no idea going through the show how well we were going to do with each level. Every time you see a commercial cut, we get a new game. It was really exciting every time we'd get a new game because I was thinking 'Oh, it's going to be a lot of money for them.' I'm really excited to be involved with the charity and see what they do with the money." 

Olympian Brandi Chastain, co-founder of BAWSI, was at a loss for words when asked about the generous donation from Amber.

"I think I'm overwhelmed right now, not only because of the amount of money in one lump sum that is coming to BAWSI, but that Amber thought of BAWSI as being significant enough in our community that she wants to focus on us," Chastain said. "My emotions are for her generosity and her commitment. The money is great, it could impact hundreds of girls. I think every community is worthy of having their young people being taken care of and the fact that she wants to spend it on our girls is amazing. I am deeply grateful and I am humbled. Marlene and I have been talking about it and she is so excited and just to think about that kind of money for us, we don't dream like that, so this is more than a dream for us."

BAWSI is a public benefit, nonprofit corporation with a mission to create programs and partnerships through which female athletes bring health, hope and wholeness to our community. Founded in 2005 by Olympic and World Cup soccer stars Brandi Chastain and Julie Foudy, and Marlene Bjornsrud, former general manager of the San Jose CyberRays women's professional soccer team, BAWSI provides a meaningful path for women athletes to become a more visible and valued part of the Bay Area sports culture.

The San Francisco 49ers Foundation is the non-profit community funding extension of the San Francisco 49ers. Now in its 19th year, the 49ers Foundation supports development programs for underserved youth that keep them "Safe, on Track and In School." Through the leadership of 49ers team owners Denise and John York, the 49ers Foundation has donated more than $10 million over the last eight years to non-profits throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

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