Eric Wynalda is in the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
D. Forbes/

Wynalda to speak at Kickoff Luncheon

The FireWorks for Kids Foundation, the charitable arm of the Chicago Fire, has announced that the Foundation will host the 2005 edition of its annual Season Kickoff Luncheon, sponsored by AthletiCo, on Tuesday, March 29 in the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Chicago, located at 151 East Wacker Drive. This year's event will begin with a reception at 11:00 a.m. CT, with the lunch and formal program beginning at 12:00 p.m. The FireWorks for Kids Foundation is proud to announce that recent National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee and former Fire and U.S. National Team member Eric Wynalda has been confirmed as the Keynote Speaker for this year's Kickoff Luncheon.

"The FireWorks for Kids Foundation is proud to again produce this premier event marking the opening of the 2005 Chicago Fire campaign," says Donald Ortale, CEO of the FireWorks for Kids Foundation. "We are grateful to AthletiCo for once again sponsoring the event and to Eric Wynalda for agreeing to be this year's Keynote Speaker. With a move into the Hyatt's Grand Ballroom and the growing success of the event, we expect this year's Luncheon to be the biggest and best yet, helping us to bring the entire soccer community together in a significant way to mark the beginning of the Fire's last year at Soldier Field."

Tickets for this year's Season Kickoff Luncheon are $60 per individual or $500 for a table of ten. All proceeds from this year's event and silent auction will benefit the FireWorks for Kids Foundation, which since 1998 has helped the Chicago Fire contribute its service and commitment to the community through grants and charitable contributions. The FWFK mission is to forward recreational and educational opportunities for economically or otherwise disadvantaged children throughout the Chicagoland area.

A former member of the "Men in Red," Wynalda is the current record holder for most U. S. National Team career goals scored and became one of the first two MLS players to be inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame last October. During his lone season with the Fire in 2001, the two-time MLS All-Star appeared in 21 games and tallied a team-high 25 points on 10 goals and five assists. His offensive efforts led him to the 2001 Chicago Fire Budweiser Scoring Championship, making him the only player other than Fire all-time leading scorer Ante Razov to achieve the feat.

"As a former member of the Fire, I never pass up an opportunity to come back to Chicago," said Wynalda. "I am thrilled to be a part of this event, as I consider my time in Chicago the pinnacle of my MLS career. From an organizational standpoint, it is great to see the Chicago Fire giving back to the kids and the community like this. They really do things right."

For the third consecutive year, AthletiCo has joined forces with FireWorks for Kids in support of the Season Kickoff Luncheon. AthletiCo, the official provider of sports medicine and rehabilitation services for the Fire, provides outpatient orthopedic rehabilitation including, physical therapy, occupational therapy, sports medicine, work rehabilitation, performing arts rehabilitation, massage therapy, women's health, golf fitness and performance enhancement. For more information on AthletiCo, please call 630-575-6200 or email

The 2005 Season Kickoff Luncheon will mark the seventh edition of the popular event, which traditionally marks the beginning of the season for both the club and the Foundation. The entire Fire player and coaching staff will be on hand to discuss the upcoming 2005 season, making this a spectacular event for Fire supporters and all fans of the sport. The first twenty full paid tables of ten will sit with a Chicago Fire player. In addition, the luncheon will include the always-popular silent auction, featuring Fire and sports memorabilia, gift certificates and more. For more information regarding the 2005 FWFK Season Kickoff Luncheon, feel free to contact the Fire Community Relations department by phone at 312-705-7218 or by fax at 312-705-7393.