Beyond Sports Teams Up with Pro Football Hall of Fame

A new relationship between the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Beyond Sports Foundation, is, as football fans would say, a “great offensive strategy.”

On June 16 and 17, Glenview’s The Glen Club will be home to the third annual Chicago Salute to Greatness event, hosted by the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s National Advisory Board. Hall of Fame members, including Dick Butkus, Dave Casper and Dan Hampton, will dine and golf with attendees during the two-day event.

Beyond Sports, a local nonprofit organization with a mission of turning athletic ability into life opportunities for underprivileged youth, will receive a portion of the proceeds and will have the opportunity to present to the group a poignant video, made possible by a grant the organization received as a winner of the Make It Better 2013 Philanthropy Awards.

“I think it’s important that this event leaves something good behind for Chicago,” says Robert Zmudka, member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Advisory Board. “The goal has always been to find the right philanthropic organization that not only will benefit from the Hall of Fame brand, but from which we can benefit too. We think Beyond Sports is the perfect fit.”

Beyond Sports’ student athletes typically come from under-resourced families in under-served communities and need financial assistance to attend college. Beyond Sports offers personal development in critical areas in order to prepare students for college and beyond. Student athletes receive state-of-the-art athletic training, academic tutoring and guidance, one-on-one mentorship and social programming.

“Kids understand the language of sport,” says BSF Executive Director Kim Michelson. “Through talking about sports, especially for those kids who are more vulnerable in life, other things come out. We provide the support for these kids to have other opportunities because of their athletic abilities.”

Michelson and BSF are optimistic that Chicago Salute to Greatness will not only raise dollars but also bolster the profile of the local philanthropy. And it doesn’t hurt to have BSF student athletes hobnobbing with some of football’s finest.

“This is huge for us,” Michelson says. “Every dollar counts. And the recognition will hopefully lead to a wider network for the organization and for our athletes. We think it’ll be the start of a beautiful relationship.”

Like the football greats who will be in attendance working to expand the brand of the Canton, Ohio, Pro Football Hall of Fame, BSF also has a targeted mission when it comes to serving their student athletes. In fact, the BSF staff and its volunteers are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure their studen athletes are successful, and to ensure that they are reaching the right group of kids. It’s the organization’s nimbleness and personalized attention that make it unique.

“If we need to go to the city to pick up a student for tutoring, we’ll do that,” Michelson says. “We make it work.”

With many of its more than 70 high school program graduates pursuing sports in college and professional leagues, BSF’s approach is clearly working. And with their relationship with the Pro Football Hall of Fame off to a great start, the future for BSF—as for its graduates—is bright.