“Our love story is ongoing,” Kerry Wood declares with an appreciative glance at his wife, Sarah, seated next to him.
“We met 12 years ago, when I was 22 and she was 21. I walked into the Chicago restaurant where she was working and … that was it.” Kerry grins broadly. “We were living together within three months.”
And their love story just keeps growing. The short version is they love each other, love their kids, love their city and love the city’s kids.
A few minutes talking with Sarah explains why the young Chicago Cubs’ star pitcher from Irving, Texas, fell for the brunette beauty from Waukegan. She’s as smart, articulate, organized and loyal as she is beautiful.
They married and enjoyed traveling the world together for several years before their three children—Justin, 6; Katie, 4; and Charlie, 2—were born. “The kids now are everything! They are our life,” Kerry says.
The kids didn’t slow them down much, though; the entire family stays with Dad during most of his away trips. “We’re like a wolf pack, always traveling together,” Sarah declares.
This isn’t as easy or glamorous as it may sound. Sarah usually drives, while Kerry takes the team plane. Imagine making a long drive to a distant city with an infant and two toddlers to live out of a hotel while Dad spends most of his time at the ballpark.
The Woods love Chicago almost as much as they love each other. As one of Major League Baseball’s most well known relief pitchers, Kerry is loyal to the Cubs and Chicago. Besides a brief stint with the Cleveland Indians, he’s always been a Chicago Cub.
Thoughtful and organized, the couple developed a life plan that insures they can raise their children here and give back to the city they love, even after Kerry stops pitching. They will do this through the Wood Family Foundation, whose mission is “to improve the lives of children in and around Chicago.”
Kerry explains, “I probably have two or three more seasons left. Then I’m focusing on the foundation full-time.”
The foundation truly is and will continue to be a family affair. “We think it’s important to model for our kids,” Kerry says. “They did a lemonade stand for it last summer.”
The Wood Family Foundation launched in June 2011 and builds on Sarah and Kerry’s history of raising money for children’s charities. They’ve netted over $2 million in the last seven years. “We’ve already funded a playroom being built in the new Lurie’s Children’s Memorial. Now we’re targeting Chicago Public Schools in four neighborhoods,” says Sarah.
Staying true to what they love has helped them build a firm foundation for their family and for others. With their commitment and energy, the Wood Family Foundation will make life better for many children in and around Chicago.
For more information on upcoming events that support the foundation’s mission, visit woodfamilyfoundation.org, the Wood Family Foundation Facebook page or follow Kerry on Twitter at @kerrywood.