Thousands of fans flock to Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais each summer to watch their favorite team in action during Chicago Bears RC Cola Training Camp. The Bears relish the opportunity to connect with our fans further downstate, and during the three weeks that the team is working on the field, the organization is working off the field to make an impact in the Bourbonnais-Kankakee community.
Bears Care, the charitable arm of the Chicago Bears, hosted the 2015 Back-to-School Fair on Saturday, August 1 on the ONU campus during the first weekend of camp. Nearly 1,200 deserving students from the Bourbonnais/Kankakee area, along with their families, attended the fair throughout the day.
Each child received approximately $300 worth of goods and services to help them prepare for the upcoming school year, including comprehensive dental care from Team Smile, physicals, audiology services courtesy of EarQ, haircuts from The Paul Mitchell School, books, school supplies, and much more.
In addition to entertainment provided by Staley Da Bear, DJ Kirby, face painters and balloon artists, guests were treated to extra surprise when tight end Martellus Bennett stopped by the fair! Martellus was a guest reader in PNC's Grow Up Great corner, where he read one of his favorite books, "The Circus Ship," to a group of children. Afterwards, all of the guests were treated to a special viewing of "Zoovie: A Warm and Fuzzy Tale," an animated film starring, created by, and directed by Martellus himself!
The annual Back-to-School Fair connects low-income families in Kankakee County to a wide range of greatly needed services focused on preparing children for school, and helps foster connections with local organizations that can provide support throughout the year. Bears Care would like to thank Catholic Charities – Diocese of Joliet, and partners PNC and Meijer for their support of the 2015 Back-to-School Fair.
Head Coach John Fox and his staff continued a Bears training camp tradition following the last day of practice on Sunday, August 16 when they participated in the annual Coaches' Bike Giveaway. As has become custom, all of the Bears coaches use bicycles instead of golf carts to get around the ONU campus. The coaches then donate the bikes to deserving youngsters from the Bourbonnais-Kankakee area. Following the last practice, the coaches enjoyed meeting the recipients of their bikes, visiting and taking photos with them on the field.
The Bears also hosted over 400 children from various charitable organizations during training camp, including the Chicago Park District, USO of Illinois, Will Cook Kankakee Youth Association, UNO (United Neighborhoods Association), Youth Guidance, WE Day, CARA Road Scholars, Special Olympics Chicago and Special Olympics Illinois. All of the kids received lunch and Bears goodies, watched practice from a private set of bleachers, and had the chance to meet some of their favorite players and receive autographs following practice.
Thank you for a great camp, Bourbonnais! We'll see you next summer!