Hours before the Bears kicked off against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday, a tragic scene unfolded in a downtown bar, when a Bears fan was stabbed to death for allegedly talking with the suspect’s wife. The man was 42-year-old William “Christopher” Pettry, who had traveled to Jacksonville to attend the Bears game later that day.
During his press conference Monday, Head Coach Lovie Smith expressed his condolences and sent prayers to the family Pettry left behind: his wife and three children.
Just days after the attack, Bears tight end Kellen Davis, who along with his marketing team, is leading charity efforts to aid Pettry’s widow and children, as Pettry was his family’s sole provider. Davis set up a page on YouCaring.com on which anyone can donate to help Pettry’s family. So far, Davis’ efforts have raised $19,298, while another page dedicated to Pettry has raised over $18,000.
In addition, Davis is holding a fundraiser at John Barleycorn – Wrigleyville on Saturday, at which items including Bears memorabilia will be auctioned off for the family’s benefit. According to ESPNChicago.com, former Bears players Tommie Harris, who lost his wife in February, and Jason McKie, whose son played football with one of Pettry’s children, are scheduled to attend the fundraiser, among other Bears players.
That support is what sets Bears players apart from their NFL counterparts. Obviously, Davis is doing a great thing by helping this family in need. He didn’t have to take time out of his schedule and family during the busy season to head a fundraising effort, but he saw a need bigger than his own.
Bears players have a history of being involved and giving back to the community, and they set an admirable example, going above and beyond the duties of professional athlete to aid the family of one of their many loyal supporters. Many Bears players live near where I do, in the north suburbs, and I think that grounds them in a way.
During the bye week, Matt Forte visited Tilden High School on the South Side to meet with students as part of a program with Duracell. Forte interacted with students, joining them in various activities and speaking in the auditorium. When Forte attended football practice, he was joined by teammates Davis (he’s a giver!) and Earl Bennett. The Tilden team only has 15 players, and according to the Chicago Sun-Times, Forte presented the school with a $20,000 check from Duracell and provided them with new football apparel, equipment and calculators.
Forte and Davis’ work in the community shows many Bears’ dedication to giving back. When athletes take initiative and take their ‘role models’ label seriously, it’s refreshing. But not all athletes embrace that role. Do you think athletes need to be consistent role models, or should they do only what they get paid to do?