Butler makes a real life difference for 400 students
Butler on hand as the Chicago Bulls, Google Express, and the Chicago Housing Authority host holiday party at the Museum of Science and Industry
By Adam Fluck | 12.22.2014
In his fourth professional season, Jimmy Butler has shown he has what it takes to be a star in the NBA.
At 21.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, he leads the Bulls in scoring and is making a strong push for his first All-Star game appearance.
On Sunday, Butler proved he can be a star off the court as well.
Following the team’s practice, he made his way to the Museum of Science and Industry, where he teamed up with the Bulls and Chicago Housing Authority to provide 400 students with holiday gifts. This year, the event was presented by Google Express.
“It’s great because this is the holiday season and it’s always good to give back and see people smile,” said Butler. “I think we should do that whether it’s the holiday season or not to tell you the truth. I just think it’s big for kids to see me from a personable standpoint rather than the guy they see on TV. A lot of them came up and said, ‘Hey, we see you on TV!’ My response is, ‘Well, that’s not the only place that I am. I’m here now so you don’t just see me on TV. I’m here in real life.’”
The day began as Bulls volunteers served lunch— provided by Ron Lofton of Lofton and Lofton, Culligan and Edy’s Ice Cream—to the students. Afterwards, museum volunteers and staff took the students on behind the scenes tours of the museum.
Next, the group convened in the auditorium where Butler spoke and Benny the Bull and other members of the Bulls Entertainment Network performed. Bulls ambassadors Sidney Green and Bob Love, as well as radio play-by-play announcer Chuck Swirsky, were also in attendance. Finally, it was time for each child to select a gift, all of which were purchased by Butler and delivered by Google Express.
Approximately 145 volunteers from the Bulls, Chicago Housing Authority, Museum of Science and Industry, and Google Express worked to make the event a success.
“I love spending money for a cause like this,” said Butler. “For the kids to come here and have a good time, for them to smile and enjoy the season that is upon us right now is what it’s all about. And I have the time. Yes, we practiced today but I was still all about coming over to this afterwards to say hello, shake some hands and take some pictures. That stuff is big for me, because not in a million years could you have told me I’d be in this position. Now that I am and I can do these kinds of things, it’s important that I do them as much as possible.”
The students on hand, ages five to 13, all reside in CHA family housing developments and were selected based on their academic achievements and attendance records.
“It’s awesome that they get to see the Museum of Science and Industry, the largest museum in all of North America, and have the educational component within the event, but also the excitement of meeting Jimmy Butler,” Kristen Hamer, director of corporate and external partnerships for the Chicago Housing Authority.
“They also get the experience of the Luvabulls and IncrediBulls being here live since a lot of these kids are not able to attend a game,” added Hamer. “And of course, they receive a holiday gift, because unfortunately for some of these kids, this might be one of the few gifts they receive.”
Like most do this time of year, Butler is looking forward to being around family and friends, many of whom will make their way to Chicago this week. The Bulls will again play on Christmas Day, this year a 7 p.m. game against the Los Angeles Lakers. Based on Sunday’s event, it is clear Butler has embraced the holiday spirit.
“It’s an incredible feeling to be part of this event and it’s very humbling,” Butler said. “It’s hard to put into words how happy I was to be here to see all the smiles on their faces and the way they kept coming back to shake my hand a thousand times. Each time, I greeted them like it was the first time.”
This marked the 15th year that the Bulls and CHA have hosted a holiday party. It is one of 26 events that the Bulls are organizing this holiday season as part of the team and NBA Cares’ Season of Giving.
“The Bulls got involved in some of our early years and we were excited about the opportunity to partner more closely with them,” said Hamer. “Working closely with their community relations team has turned this into one of our signature events. It’s great because the Bulls are able to leverage their corporate partners and bring other resources to the event such as lunch and the gifts themselves. All of that of course is on top of the personal giving by Jimmy Butler.
“I think it means the world to the kids to see a member of the Bulls in person,” Hamer continued. “These are children who are in awe of someone that they see on TV. Not only is he larger than what they might imagine in person, he’s got a personality that really wins them over at an event like this.”