The Lead the Way Foundation made a $75,000 donation, which covered more than 80 percent of costs to replace the site???s playground with a new, inclusive, handicap-accessible play area for young patients and their siblings.
MINNEAPOLIS –Chad Greenway may have been the professional football player, but it was 5-year-old twin boys who stole the show Tuesday at the Ronald McDonald House.
Greenway's **Lead the Way Foundation** made a $75,000 donation, which covered more than 80 percent of costs to replace the site's playground with a new, inclusive, handicap-accessible play area for young patients and their siblings. Greenway was on hand for the site's groundbreaking and met a number of young patients and their families decked out in Vikings purple.
"I thought your head would be way bigger," said one boy, giggling as Greenway knelt down to meet the pair of mini Vikings fans.
"Are you the one who makes all of the [opponents] players fall down?" asked his brother.
Baen and Bryce Hurst have Hurler Syndrome, a genetic condition that requires ongoing treatment. In 2012, they both underwent bone marrow transplants, and they continue to travel from their hometown in Ohio to the Twin Cities for various procedures. They are two of five boys in the Hurst family; their youngest brother, nine months old, was also diagnosed with Hurler Syndrome.
The Hurst boys and numerous other children will benefit from the brand-new, accessible playground that the Greenways are making possible by partnering with Flagship and Landscape Structures.
Greenway said this is an especially fun project because it's the first playground his Lead the Way Foundation has funded.
"We're trying to support as many people as we can," Greenway said. "So to be able to provide this, a handicap-accessible play structure that anybody can enjoy […] we're going to be able to reach a lot of kids with this playground, and that's really what it's all about for us and our foundation.
"It's really exciting for us to be able to work with Ronald McDonald House with how many things they're doing across this country to help families," Greenway added. "It's an honor for us to work with them."
Conversely, the Ronald McDonald House staff expressed incredible gratitude to Greenway and the Lead the Way Foundation for making a difference.
The Minneapolis Oak Street location of the Ronald McDonald House can give home to 48 families each night, many of them with children who are facing – or recovering from – bone marrow or major organ transplants. The average length of a stay is 150 days.
Greenway hosted his sixth Celebrity Waiter Night at Manny's Steakhouse Monday night, and the evening brought in $240,000 for the Lead the Way Foundation.
Greenway hosts 6th annual Celebrity Waiter Night at Manny's Steakhouse
Raising money through the Lead the Way Foundation is an all-year effort, and Greenway hosts a number of charity events to fund projects like the accessible playground. Along with his annual golf tournament, the Celebrity Waiter Night is hugely instrumental in making such significant contributions possible.
Greenway hosted his sixth Celebrity Waiter Night at Manny's Steakhouse Monday night, and the evening brought in $240,000 for the Lead the Way Foundation. Guests were able to mingle with Greenway and some of his teammates, including Harrison Smith, Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and Kyle Rudolph. The Vikings were joined by Minnesota Wild players Devan Dubnyk, Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker, as well as 2016 Olympic swimmer and medalist, David Plummer. The athletes exchanged their jerseys – and swim caps – for aprons as they served wine to the 200-plus attendees and paused to take photos and sign autographs.
"Any time you have an opportunity to make an impact, it's something special that, as athletes, we're able to do to raise money," said Dubynk, a self-proclaimed football fan who was excited to meet Greenway and participate in the evening. "This event is amazing. When you see somebody like [Chad] who's doing that much work in the community and raising that much money, it's exciting to have a chance to be a part of it."
"Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen served as the evening's emcee, and there was both a silent and live auction that featured Vikings memorabilia, such as a Teddy Bridgewater-signed helmet, as well as non-football items like an autographed movie poster or hockey puck signed by Zach Parise.
At the end of the evening, guests were introduced to Leah Feyereisen of Hammond, Wisconsin, whose family has been significantly impacted by the Lead the Way Foundation. Feyereisen has 9-year-old triplets, and Tanner, Parker and Cole have been through a combined 15-plus surgeries to address various disabilities and complications as a result of premature birth. Feyereisen has been a big advocate for constructing playgrounds like the one at the Ronald McDonald House.
"Kids needs playgrounds where everybody's equal, so that they don't feel different – so kids like one of my sons, who has casts on his legs, can go do all the things that the other kids do," said Feyereisen, who said Tanner has been bullied. "So that they're not set apart, so that they feel good about themselves. It's so important. Every parent wants their kid to fit in."
Feyereisen first became acquainted with Greenway and the Lead the Way Foundation through his "Chad's Locker" program and was then invited to attend the TendHER Heart luncheon a number of years ago. Since then, she has stayed connected with the Greenways through multiple events and has headed her own effort to mentor and promote kindness and inclusiveness in children.
"Leah is such a strong woman," Greenway said. "To provide her with an opportunity to come to the TendHER Heart luncheon years ago and now to forge a relationship with her throughout different events, which has now motivated her to help – that's so cool for us to kind of see that passed forward."
Paying it forward was a common theme Monday night. After one guest bid $3,000 in the live auction for a boxing glove signed by Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard and Joe Frazier, he gave the glove to the Feyereisen triplets rather than taking it home.
"That was a pretty cool thing for me to see," Greenway said. "When he gave the boxing glove to those three boys, their faces just lit up. They were so excited, and they'll never forget that moment. Obviously he had enough and wanted to provide them with something they didn't have.
"Just seeing that, that's really what it's all about," Greenway added. "There are so many giving people out there who do so many different things, so for us to be a small part of it and give them an avenue to be able to help and give is pretty cool."