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Cougars 15th Annual Winter Banquet Raises $20,000

February 4, 2006 - Midwest League (MWL) - Kane County Cougars News Release

Geneva, IL - The Kane County Cougars 15th annual Winter Baseball Banquet, presented by Old Second Bank, raised $20,000 for Ozzie's Outreach, the 501(c) 3 charitable arm of the Cougars. Along with raising money for charity, a full house enjoyed dinner and a speakers program featuring Bobby Dernier and Tommy John, as well as new Cougars manager Aaron Nieckula, to kick off the 2006 season.

Throughout the evening, fans visited with honored guests and participated in both a silent auction and raffle. Each prize winning opportunity included a variety of items including sports memorabilia, dining and travel prizes and unique souvenirs. The highlight of the silent auction was a non-sports item, of sorts. Drawing a winning bid of $650, one lucky fan walked away with a mounted Ozzie the Cougar mascot head. The unique souvenir promises to be the conversation centerpiece of a trophy room. Another warmly received item in the silent auction was a baseball quilt which went for $425. The quilt featured t-shirts from each of the 14 teams in the Midwest League. For sports fans, popular items included a Gayle Sayers autographed helmet ($350), a Josh Beckett autographed Cougars jersey ($305), and a chance to join Cougars broadcaster Jeff Hem in the booth as "Guest Radio Announcer" for a game ($295).

During a break in the speakers program, a spirited live auction drew widespread interest. Along with autographed memorabilia from two former Cougars, A's Rookie of the Year Huston Street and White Sox All-Star Scott Podsednik, the evening was highlighted by two generous donations from former ballplayers. First, St. Charles philanthropist and former major league pitcher Bob Miller offered up a five night stay for two at the Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, Arizona. Not to be outdone, guest speaker Bobby Dernier joined in on the fly and auctioned off the opportunity to join him at Wrigley Field when he serves as Guest Conductor of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 2006 season. All together, the four live auction items earned over $2,300 for Ozzie's Outreach, led by a winning bid of $1,500 for Bob Dernier's gift.

Proceeds from the event benefit Ozzie's Outreach. Along with the annual Winter Baseball Banquet, funds raised through the 50/50 Raffle at the ballpark, the Pitch In for Charity Promotion and other events throughout the year are pooled together to be distributed to a variety of worthy causes. Over the years, Ozzie's Outreach has made donations to the American Cancer Society, Juvenile Diabetes, Illinois Military Family Relief Fund and countless other local groups including shelters and food pantries, all of which rely on the support of Cougars fans and Ozzie's Outreach. The Cougars have also been able to coordinate programs, through Ozzie's Outreach, including the Holiday Hoorah which brings cheer to kids hospitalized during the holidays and provides gifts of clothing and supplies to needy families, as well as supporting reading programs including Ozzie's Reading Club which promotes literacy and reaches over 150,000 students throughout the Chicago area.

The speakers program began with honors for Tommy Everidge, the 2005 Cougars MVP. Everidge was joined on the dais by new Cougars manager Aaron Nieckula, who shared with fans his coaching philosophy and previewed the coming team with the A's Director of Player Development, Keith Lieppman. Both Bobby Dernier and Tommy John then took turns at the podium, entertaining fans with stories from the playing days and fielding question from the audience.

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