Hockey great Denis Savard knows a thing or two about good fortune. Savard’s career first began when he was drafted in 1980 during the first round—third overall—by the Chicago Blackhawks. After several years in the Windy City, he continued on to a storied career with the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning. He eventually returned home to Chicago after winning the Stanley Cup championship and trademarking a move dubbed the “Savardian Spin-o-rama.” He trails only behind Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita for total points in Chicago history. He ended his hockey career as the Blackhawks coach after three seasons, and watched as his #18 jersey ascended into the rafters when the organization retired his number. An induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame soon followed.
But a man like Savard knows that there’s a reason behind his good luck in life, so he naturally wants to give back to the community that gave so much to him.
The hockey legend began The Denis Savard Foundation in 2010. Savard has partnered with several Chicagoland not-for-profits to raise much needed funds for causes near and dear to his heart. Over the years, The Foundation, as expected, has partnered with Chicago Blackhawk Charities, as well as Blackhawk Alumni, contributing to their annual fund that sends at least three high school seniors through college each year.
The other organizations tied into The Foundation were handpicked by Savard himself and include Lydia Home Association and Ronald McDonald House. He wanted the focus to be on children. “I have a child who is 23, healthy, and doing great,” explains Savard. “My wife and I are fortunate. But there are kids out there that are very sick or left without parents. I want to help.”
But to really hear Savard’s true passion is to listen to him talk about the final beneficiary of The Foundation: the USO of Illinois. “When I look at our veterans, they are really the true heroes. I’ve talked with some of those brave men and women. They come home from war with a half of a leg, yet their attitude is incredible,” says a humble Savard. “They are the ones that truly keep America safe.”
Savard and his Foundation skate into Lake Bluff for a benefit on October 21 at Lake Forest Sportscars. “The Monte Carlo Charity Gala” promises to be as fast-paced as its chosen venue—casino games, tremendous prizes, and entertainment by the ’60s rock group The Buckinghams. Appearances by sports legends like Dan Hampton, Marty Lapointe, Glen Kozlowski, Grant Mulvey, and Reggie Kerr will add to the evening’s excitement. Savard credits the hard work of honorary co-chairs Steven and Melissa Esposito of Lake Forest for pulling together such a blowout. Tina Ballis, Ada Boras, Lynne Kennedy, Leslie Gantos, and Lori Rozdolsky, all of Lake Forest, are serving as chairpersons.
Amid all the excitement, Savard stays true to his Foundation’s objective. “It’s going to be a really exciting evening, but at the end of the day, it’s about helping kids, helping our troops, and giving back to the people of Chicago.”
The Monte Carlo Charity Gala is on Friday, October 21, from 6 to 11 p.m., at Lake Forest Sportscars, 990 North Shore Drive in Lake Bluff. Tickets are $150 per person, or a reserved table of 10 is available for $2,500. For reservations, contact Anything’s Possible Events at 708-450-1710.