Just two days before their final preseason football game, the entire San Francisco 49ers roster of 90 players attended a charity dinner event at Levi’s Stadium. All proceeds from this “Players for a Purpose” charity dinner benefit the 49ers Foundation’s mission to empower and educate Bay Area youth through their 49ers EDU and 49ers PREP programs.
Professional sports teams often give back to their communities, but for an entire roster to take the time to attend isn’t typical of an average charity event.
The night, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo — at one point the highest paid player in the NFL — made an impromptu move to help increase an auction bid. The 49ers were offering a night out of karaoke with long-time offensive tackle Joe Staley. After Staley started showing off his singing ability, rookie offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey joined him on stage to sing alongside.
With the 49ers in the process of trying to increase the highest bid to $10,000, Garoppolo hopped on stage after Staley confirmed that the quarterback would join him for the karaoke night. The winning bid ended up going for $13,500.
The dinner wasn’t just about raising money though, it was also a night where fans could interact with their favorite players. The kids in attendance got to do a meet and greet before the dinner with some of the players and adults who bought tickets for the evening got to eat dinner alongside 49ers players.
“The 49ers put on a free flag football league for the kids at Central Park,” noted Santa Clara football coach Gabe Ghazanfari. “And all of those kids got invited to this dinner — it’s really cool. The 49ers put together the flag league for these kids completely free. They provided jerseys and had players come out and meet the kids. And for free? Hard to beat that nowadays.”
Not only was the night a terrific event for the kids in attendance, but it was also a night where fans and players could connect on a deeper level than just football.
Second-year 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin spoke at length about some of his experiences. Early on in his speech Goodwin paused before joking that he was nervous speaking in front of a crowd. Admitting his nervousness was a human moment, something to which many of those in attendance could relate. Goodwin also opened up about growing up without a father figure and how he and his wife lost their child last season after a premature birth.
Goodwin ended his talk by making sure the kids in attendance were listening before saying, “the rewards will always last longer than the pain.”