We were packed to capacity at the Grand Hall at the Priory for our White Fields Foundation 3rd Annual ”Night of Inspiration.” This year we honored Aaron Smith, 13 year veteran of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Many of his teammates (Brett Kiesel, Doug Legursky, Jeff Hartings) were on hand to celebrate his great career, his faith, and his family commitment. Tunch Ilkin was our Master of Ceremonies, playing the role of interviewer with his Steeler guys to great applause. Aaron was an NFL All-Pro and 2-time Super Bowl champ earning great praise for his fierce play from his peers, coaching staff and fans. Sports Illustrated senior writer, Peter King, named Aaron a member of the 2000 All-Decade Team. His greatest struggle has not been on the gridiron; it has been his son’s battle with Leukemia which he shared with us. Fred Morelli shared a powerful personal testimony of how he overcame a long battle with clinical depression through the love of God’s people and the men of White Fields leading him to a personal relationship with Christ. We enjoyed our best event financially due to strong corporate sponsorship, table sponsors and a matching gift pledge from key donors.
This year we began a new recognition, a Marriage Award, in honor of Sharon Ilkin. Sharon was a beautiful servant of the Lord who was taken home at the age of 55 this past February after a long battle with cancer. Jesus won that battle and she is with him now! She left a legacy of compassionate service to others, a strong faith in Christ her Savior, and a deep imprint of love in her husband Tunch, and their three children: Tanner, Natalie, and Clay. They were all on-hand with us.
Dean Ivory was our Joshua Courage Award recipient. Dean will be graduating in June from Seton LaSalle High School with honors in part due to the generosity of some key White Fields donors. Over the past 5 years we have been involved in his life he has overcome many difficult setbacks including his father’s homicide. We are proud to celebrate God’s work of grace in him and his growth as a young man of God.
Thanks especially to our corporate sponsors who have been with us over the last three years: Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, Thorp Reed & Armstrong, Colussy Chevrolet, and ADT. Thanks also to our first year sponsors Dollar Bank and Hefren- Tillotson. Special thanks as well to our table sponsors who have generously supported us. Once again the Priory’s service and food was outstanding! Over the past three years, we’ve had 300- 400 people enjoy a great meal, music, and an inspirational evening with us. Past celebrities include Joe Erhman (“America’s Most Important Coach” per Parade Magazine), Matt Millen, and Todd Blackledge (ESPN).