(CHICAGO) – An impressive line-up of some of Chicago's best-known professional athletes will take center stage to receive honors at the 17th Annual Fox Sports Net Sports Awards benefiting the March of Dimes. The dinner will be held Monday, February 9, 2004 at the Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe in downtown Chicago. Tom Waddle, former Chicago Bears standout wide receiver and current host of Fox Sports Net's "Full Access," will emcee the awards program. Fox Sports Net will air the event on Sunday, February 22 at 9:00 PM with additional replays on February 24 at 9:00 PM and February 27 at 7:00 PM.
The honorees include top athletes from Chicago's professional teams. They are chosen based on their contributions to their teams and the Chicago community. This year's honorees include Jamal Crawford of the Bulls, Esteban Loaiza of the White Sox, Joe Borowski of the Cubs, Jocelyn Thibault of the Blackhawks, Jesse Marsch of the Fire and Marty Booker of the Bears. This year's "Lifetime Achievement Award" will be presented to former Chicago Cubs star Ryne Sandberg. A 10-time National League All-Star, he was voted the NL's Most Valuable Player in 1984. The event also features a silent auction and sweepstakes.
One of the highlights of the evening is the presentation of the "Inspirational Athlete of the Year" award. Sylvester Flis, a member of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago's (RIC) Sled Hockey team, is this year's honoree. Flis, a native of Poland, was born with spina bifida 29 years ago. Spina bifida is a birth defect in which the backbone does not close completely during gestation, often leaving the spinal cord exposed, which can cause some paralysis.
Flis was also the primary motivation behind the beginning of the RIC Blackhawks Sled Hockey Team. He has received several honors including Team USA MVP for four of six games at the 2000 World Cup. Flis has overcome many challenges in his life above and beyond his disability. He adjusted to using a wheelchair at the age of 21 after being able to walk since he was five. He gradually overcame cultural barriers as he taught himself to speak English without formal training. He volunteers as a sled hockey referee for juniors games and teaches people who are blind how to play beep baseball.
Prior to the awards telecast, guests will also have a chance to place bids on an exceptional variety of silent auction items featuring:
- Autographed sports memorabilia
- Tickets to Chicago professional sporting events
- Wine tasting and winery tour for four at Firestone Vineyard in California
- VIP passes to the 50th anniversary of the Playboy Club at Harrah's Casino in Lake Tahoe
David W. Harvey, a partner at M & J Wilkow, is the honorary chair of the Fox Sports Net Sports Awards dinner and ceremony. William T. Barry, Senior Vice President of Draper & Kramer, Inc. and a board member of the March of Dimes Illinois Chapter, is chairperson of the event.
Now in its 17th year under the guidance of Fox Sports Net Chicago's Senior Vice President/General Manager James J. Corno, the Fox Sports Net Sports Awards has raised over $3 million for the March of Dimes.
A reception at 5:00 PM will be followed by the dinner at 6:30 PM and awards ceremony at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $250 per person. Tables with preferred seating for ten are $3,000 each. Proceeds will benefit the March of Dimes, a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects and infant mortality.
Fox Sports Net Chicago reaches more than 3.8 million households in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin. Fox Sports Net Chicago's programming includes Chicago Bulls basketball, Chicago Blackhawks hockey, Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs baseball, Chicago Fire soccer, "The Best Damn Sports Show Period," NASCAR and "Beyond the Glory." Fox Sports Net Chicago is managed by Rainbow Media Holdings LLC.