Major League Soccer has announced that the Chicago Fire's Donald Ortale has earned the 2004 MLS Community Relations Director of the Year Award for his services to his club and the Chicagoland community during the 2004 calendar year. This marks the second time that Ortale has earned the Community Relations Executive of the Year honor, having also earned the distinction at the finish of the 2002 season.
"I am very honored to be recognized with this year's award from Major League Soccer," said Ortale. "This honor is so much more than an individual award. It truly is a team and organizational recognition, so I would like to thank the entire Chicago Fire staff, and in particular Jessica Yavitz and Valerie Buxton of the Community Relations Department, and our many community-based partners that have donated their time and abilities and recognize them all for their tremendous outreach efforts. In addition, I would also like to share this award with members of our fellow Community Relations staffs throughout the League, who do such outstanding work to improve lives in every city that supports Major League Soccer."
In addition to increasing the team's donation and community awareness through player appearances, Ortale brought out more than 4,000 disadvantaged children to Fire's successful "Kids Night Out" program. He also organized the Fire's anti-smoking school assembly program for the seventh consecutive year, a program that has now visited almost 75,000 children and is being credited by the American Lung Association for contributing to the statistical decrease in smoking among young people in Chicagoland. During the 2004 season, Ortale developed three new major relationships with community groups that resulted in 1,200 group tickets sold, which assisted the groups in raising more than $750,000 for their causes. Through his efforts, the Fire raised more than $275,000 in donations and grants for the FireWorks for Kids Foundation in 2004, with the Fire's charitable arm issuing a record $159,000 in grants and contributions to local charities during the year.
"On behalf of the entire Fire organization, I would like to congratulate Mr. Ortale and his staff for once again earning this tremendous honor," said Fire GM and FireWorks for Kids Foundation President Peter Wilt. After working alongside Donald for the past five years with both the Fire and the FireWorks for Kids Foundation, I have remained impressed with his unwavering dedication towards making sure the Fire puts forth its best effort in reaching out to the Chicagoland community. There could be no more deserving winner of this award than Donald, and I thank him for his continued hard work on behalf of the club.
Ortale has overseen the Fire's Community Relations Department while also serving as the CEO for the FireWorks for Kids Foundation - the Fire's charitable arm - since joining the Chicago front office staff in the spring of 2000. Prior to joining the Fire, Ortale served as the Director of Educational Programming and Special Events for the American Lung Association of Illinois. A native Chicagoan and a University of Wisconsin-Stout graduate, Ortale volunteers as Park Board Commissioner in Addison, IL, and serves on the Board of Directors for Chicago Scores. He lives in Addison with his wife Sue, and children Donald and Katelynn.
Pack Your Bags for the FireWorks for Kids Foundation's First-Ever "Suitcase Party" on Dec. 3
The FireWorks for Kids Foundation invites you to grab a friend for a unique event that could turn a donation to the Fire's charitable arm into a weekend getaway to the Pheasant Run Resort & Spa in St. Charles, IL. The FWFK Foundation has announced that it will hold its first-ever "Suitcase Party" on Friday, Dec. 3 at Jaks Tap, located at 901 W. Jackson St. in Chicago, from 6:00-9:00 p.m. CT. Tickets to the event cost $130 for a team of two people, with all proceeds from the evening going directly to the FWFK Foundation to support its community initiatives throughout Chicagoland.
Tickets to this exciting event will include an appetizer buffet, two drink tickets and entry into a raffle to win door prizes, along with the opportunity to bid on memorabilia in a silent auction. All guests are reminded to bring a suitcase (if they so choose), as the grand prize winning team will leave for a two-night weekend stay (Dec. 3-5) directly from Jaks Tap at 9:00 p.m. Limousine transportation will be provided to whisk the winners to and from Pheasant Run for the weekend excursion.
For more information on the Suitcase Party and your chance to reserve a spot at the event, please contact Jessica Yavitz in the FWFK Foundation office at 312-705-7218. For information on this and other Foundation events, please visit the "Community" section of the Fire's official website, www.Chicago-Fire.com.