Greenway hosted his seventh annual Celebrity Waiter Night at Mannyâs Steakhouse, and and a number of current Vikings for the fundraiser (Photos by: MakeYourName).
Photos and Video Courtesy of MakeYourName
MINNEAPOLIS –Chad Greenway no longer spends his days in the Vikings locker room, but he and his former teammates suited up together again Monday night.
Greenway hosted his seventh annual Celebrity Waiter Night at Manny's Steakhouse, and he and a number of current Vikings donned matching aprons for the fundraiser that's so popular among both players and guests.
"The cause remains the same, regardless of if he's my teammate or not. He's a good friend, the work he's doing is very admirable and well-thought out," said linebacker Anthony Barr. "This event is one of my favorite ones each year, so it's important to come out and support him."
Raising money through the Lead the Way Foundation is an all-year effort, and Greenway and his wife, Jenni, host a number of charity events to fund projects such as accessible playgrounds. Along with his annual golf tournament, the Celebrity Waiter Night is hugely instrumental in making significant contributions possible.
"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, including helmets signed by Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater, Xavier Rhodes and others. Among featured non-Vikings items were autographed Minnesota Wild jerseys, a "Boxing Legends Glove" and autographed paraphernalia from the likes of Walter Payton, Dan Marino and the "Miracle on Ice" team.
Barr was joined by Eric Kendricks, Harrison Smith, Andrew Sendejo, Kyle Rudolph and Kentrell Brothers. Rookie linebackers Ben Gedeon and Eric Wilson, despite never having shared a field with Greenway, also joined in the effort. Former Vikings Ben Leber and Brooks Bollinger participated, as well.
"It's kind of a weird moment, being retired and kind of on the outside of the team now," Greenway said. "But it's such a great response from my former teammates; obviously the linebackers are all here. Sendejo's here, Harrison's here, so it's really cool for me to have those guys show up. Kyle's here, and Kyle's so good to all of my events. He does such a good job in the community.
"It's just so cool to see those guys come and support me and Jenni and the Foundation, and what we've done," Greenway added.
Kendricks said there wasn't a doubt in his mind that he would continue to support Greenway's off-field endeavors.
"He's someone I look up to, and my first couple of years he really showed me the way and just taught me a whole bunch about life and football in general," Kendricks said. "I feel like I owe it to him, you know? He's doing a great thing for people in [the Twin Cities community], and I look up to him. It's something that I want to support."
Guests attending Monday's event were able to mingle with Greenway and other celebrity guests that included Jason Zucker and Nino Niederreiter of the Wild and former Twins first baseman Justin Morneau.
Morneau has continued to be active in the Minnesota community himself, and he said he has received consistent support from Greenway in his own annual "Casino Night" gala that raises money for the Arthritis Foundation.
"Chad's helped me out at my event in the past, and you always want to return that favor any time you can," Morneau said. "The people of Minnesota have always been so good to me and my family that any way you can help out, you want to be able to do that. And to be a part of anything that Chad does, you know it's going to be put on right and supporting the right cause, and I'm glad I could be a part of it."
Guests were able to mingle, take photos with and receive autographs from the celebrity waiters who served wine and dinner.
At the end of the evening, however, it was an 8-year-old who stole the show.
Vikings fans are well-acquainted with young Obadiah "Skolbadiah" Gamble, who in 2016 celebrated his birthday with Teddy Bridgewater. What some might not know, however, is that Obadiah has been a periodic patient at the children's hospital, beginning with a handful of surgeries before he was a year old.
Obadiah, who is approaching another surgery this winter, recently joined Greenway and his foundation for the "Field of Dreams" weekend getaway at the Mall of America.
"He's funny, and he's never mad," Obadiah said of Greenway. "He's just the kind of person that you want to be with."
Obadiah's mother, Vanessa Gamble, expressed extreme gratitude for Greenway's partnership with Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota that have made such a difference in her son's life.
"It's just the difference between hope and no hope," said Vanessa, who added that Obadiah's desire to positively impact current children's hospital patients has been possible through his relationship with Greenway and the Lead the Way Foundation.
Greenway was excited to welcome Obadiah and his family as a testimony to his efforts.
"It's nice to be able to put a face or a family to what we're doing and to the cause," Greenway said. "We're trying to put our money where our mouth is and affect these families in a positive way.
"And Obadiah, obviously, does a phenomenal job of being on the microphone and just kind of wooing the crowd," Greenway said with a smile. "We're happy he could be here."
Never one to disappoint, Obadiah performed his most recent song, a rap written and dedicated to Chad and Jenni and their foundation. Dressed to the nines in a vest, bowtie and newsboy cap, Obadiah received a warm reception from a full dining room of guests.
"I always tell him, 'People celebrate kindness, and they celebrate joy.' And [Obadiah] has joy," Vanessa said. "And when someone comes along that has kindness … like Chad Greenway, people get so excited to celebrate because it's their two favorite things together – they just don't know that. Joy and kindness, together, is the perfect combination."