The 49ers put on a stellar performance as the team and their Faithful said "Farewell Candlestick" and defeated the Atlanta Falcons, providing high spirits throughout the stadium, for the players, and for Dream Foundation guest Tony Flier. A family man, Avenir Restaurant Group Chef and manager, and longtime 49ers friend, Tony was recently diagnosed with brain cancer and has since undergone surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. A cancer diagnosis is always scary and all who are faced with it handle it differently. For Tony, it has become an opportunity to spend as much time as possible with his family, sharing jokes, memories and living life to its fullest with a huge smile and the strength to battle a daunting foe.
"Tony has had a long-standing relationship with the team ever since he became a renowned chef at Town Restaurant and part of the Avenir Restaurant group, a huge supporter of the 49ers Foundation," stated Community Relations Specialist, Heather Curry, "He is part of the 49ers Family and we want to do everything we can to assist him in his fight against cancer."
Tony and wife Janell along with their two daughters Ella and Ava made the trip from Roseville, California to attend a 49ers practice and fulfill his dream of attending the final game at Candlestick Park. Given his close ties with the 49ers, Tony was sure to see some friends along the way. Upon arriving at the 49ers training facility, the family was greeted warmly by 49ers alumnus Keena Turner. The two immediately engaged in conversations reflecting on the 49ers past, present, and future. From there, the Fliers' escapade led to a tour of 49ers Headquarters. A stroll through the red and gold halls included fun-filled historic facts, an exclusive look at the 49ers Hall of Fame jerseys, and framed images of the franchise's most celebrated moments. The tour culminated in the lobby where the 49ers five Lombardi Trophies and Super Bowl rings are on display, symbolizing all Tony had witnessed through his years as a loyal San Francisco fan.
Taking their place under the "Family Tent" at the 49ers practice, Tony shared a full circle moment with his daughters, witnessing some of his favorite players prepare for Monday's game while some of his favorite alums and friends from the teams of the 1980s and 1990s graced the sidelines. After the whistle blew, it was no ordinary autograph session with players, but rather a reunion and exchange of hugs. Years of friendship, meals, and some of the most memorable events have been shared between Tony and the team, and the mutual admiration was obvious through the warm welcoming and conversations.
"While on a trip with the 49ers, Tony and I met in New Orleans and he took me on an adventure of food," reflected 49ers alumnus Guy McIntyre, "From there, we were connected at the hip and I not only came to know him as a great chef, but as a great friend."
Monday afternoon arrived, and for the last time at Candlestick Park, Tony took his place on the sidelines. After years of attending games and cheering for his team in red, it was time for Tony, his family and 49ers fans around the world to say "Farewell Candlestick." Taking in the game-time sounds, the roar of the crowd as Steve Young reunited with Jerry Rice for a game of catch, and watching linebacker NaVorro Bowman's interception return to the end zone for the win and a spot in the playoffs created the perfect recipe for a bittersweet goodbye and night to remember.
"I have been a fan since the sixties, so coming out here and truly feeling like part of the team, saying goodbye to Candlestick, receiving a warm welcome from John York, and having my daughters absorb everything I have been a part of is really exciting," expressed Tony, "I am incredibly thankful for the Dream Foundation and this opportunity with the 49ers."