07/15/2009 2:25 PM ET
Jon Wilhite, Survivor of Adenhart Crash, to Throw Out Ceremonial First Pitch of A's vs. Angels Game on Saturday, July 18
Kurt and Renee Suzuki to Host Fundraiser During Game to Benefit Wilhite's Recovery Fund
OAKLAND, Calif. - Jon Wilhite, the lone survivor of the April 9 car crash that killed Angels' pitcher Nick Adenhart, Henry Pearson and Courtney Stewart, will be attending the A's vs. Angels game on Saturday, July 18, as a guest of A's catcher Kurt Suzuki and his wife Renee. Wilhite will throw out the ceremonial first pitch of the game to Suzuki, his former teammate at Cal State Fullerton, during a special pre-game ceremony at 12:55 pm.
Over the past two months, the Suzukis, with the help of Orlando and Katie Cabrera, have hosted a number of fundraisers to assist their good friend Wilhite, who is currently undergoing speech, physical, and occupational therapy as an outpatient at a rehabilitation center in Southern California. All funds raised through the Suzuki's fundraising efforts will help pay for Wilhite's rehabilitation costs. Wilhite continues to recover from injuries that required an April 15 operation to reattach his skull and spinal column after a rare separation.
"My wife Renee and I are doing everything we can to help Jon and his family through this devastating, life-altering ordeal," said Kurt. "As a professional athlete, I have the resources and opportunity to host these fundraisers and I only hope that the money we raise will alleviate some of the costs that Jon and his family are being faced with during his long rehab process. Our heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who has contributed and will contribute this weekend."
During the A's vs. Angels games on Saturday and Sunday, Renee and other A's player's wives will sell "mystery" A's autographed baseballs from a table behind section 120. Over 300 baseballs autographed by both A's and Angels' players and hidden in paper bags, will be randomly selected by fans for a donation of $40 to the Wilhite Fund. In addition, during the Saturday game, all of the proceeds from the A's silent auction will benefit the Wilhite Fund, with the A's Community Fund matching the total money raised through the silent auction. Also, behind section 120, the first 200 fans who pledge to be a designated driver at the Anheuser-Busch Good Sport booth during the first three innings of the game will receive an autographed Suzuki photo card.
Wilhite and his family, who will be guests of A's owner Lew Wolff on his private charter, will attend the games on Saturday and Sunday to help with the fundraising efforts and to share their story and spread the message to drinking responsibly.
"Our family, especially Jon, has always been so against drinking and driving," explained Jon's older brother Michael. "When this all happened and it turned out to be someone who was drinking and driving, it was just really hard for us to deal with because we are also so cautious about it."
On average someone in this country is killed by a drunk driver every 40 minutes. During the game on Saturday, the Wilhites, Suzukis and A's would like to spread the message to fans to drink responsibly, and to not drink and drive. MADD (Mother's Against Drunk Driving), a non-profit organization with a mission of fighting drunk driving, will display their crashed car trailer outside the Gate D entrance of the Coliseum as a reminder of the consequences of drinking and driving, and will be asking fans to pledge to eliminate drunk driving. In addition, there will be a MADD victim services information table inside the Coliseum behind section 120.
So far, the Suzukis have raised $26,500 for the Wilhite Recovery Fund through their efforts. Funds have been raised through a three-day silent auction at CSU Fullerton in May and through an on-line auction on the A's website during the month of June that raised $20,000 through the sale of new and game-used autographed memorabilia from players and coaches around Major League baseball.
Additional monetary donations can be made to the Wilhite Recovery Fund, account 3980643658, at any Wells Fargo Bank branch, or to a tax deductible account set up through Manhattan Beach Little League by mailing a check to: Manhattan Beach Little League, P.O. Box 3512, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266, with "Wilhite Recovery Fund" on the memo line.