Bears’ Tillman scores with sick kids in Oak Lawn
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org July 15, 2011 3:00PM
Bears cornerback Charles Tillman stands next to a locker filled with notebook computers, DVD players and gaming systems that he donated to Hope Children's Hospital on Friday July 15, 2011, in Oak Lawn. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 1, 2011 11:48PM
On a hot July day when he’d usually be preparing for training camp, Bears cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman was brightening the lives of sick youngsters.
Through his charitable Cornerstone Foundation, Tillman brought a large metal locker, dubbed “Charles’ Locker,” filled with $12,000 worth of iPads, notebook computers, computer games, DVDs, CDs and other items to help sick children and their families fill idle hours at Hope Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn.
After the kids beat Tillman playing the card game Uno, Joe Thielen, 18, of Homewood, challenged him to a game of air hockey.
“Easy, easy, cheerleaders. It’s only one,” Tillman said Friday after Thielen scored the first goal.
Tillman, who grunted with nearly each shot, asked whether grunting helps “women in tennis when they play?”
Thielen won the game, 7-6.
“Are you serious? A backhand?” Tillman said in mock disgust before he congratulated Thielen.
Recently diagnosed with leukemia, Thielen is one of those who will benefit from Tillman’s donations.
“Pretty awesome,” he said of playing with Tillman.
Tillman is familiar with children in hospitals, and the long lonely hours that their parents spend there. One of his three children, Tiana, had a heart transplant when she was an infant.
“I noticed when my daughter was in the hospital, I had a computer, but not everyone had a computer or a Game Boy to pass the time away,” Tillman said.
Dr. Sandra Clark, director of pediatrics at the hospital, said the donated items will see plenty of use.
“It’s so overwhelming, the generosity we’ve seen. Donations like these really help the process of healing for our patients, that they can stay connected,” Clark said.
This is the fourth locker that Tillman’s foundation has donated to a Chicago-area hospitals.
“Our goal is to get all of the children’s hospitals. I think we’re on pace and doing a pretty good job,” he said.
Registered nurse Deena Martin, of Merrionette Park, contacted the Cornerstone Foundation in October.
“I emailed them and said how great it would be if they were going to do another locker, if our hospital would benefit from it,” said Martin, who has Bears season tickets. “I was really excited to see it happen.”
The locker will be updated with new items every three months,
a spokeswoman for the foundation said. Fifth Third Bank sponsors the locker.
After the news conference, Tillman posed for pictures, signed T-shirts and hats and personally delivered autographed footballs to two children who were too ill to attend the news conference.
As for the NFL lockout possibly ending soon, Tillman said he remains optimistic. He joked that his wife
has grown weary of him hanging around the house, saying he’s stayed in shape “by playing video games, a lot of Madden, trying to work on my spin move.”
Tillman knows fans are as eager to watch football as he is to play.
“I’m a season ticket owner, too. I’ve had them for nine years,” he said.