NAPLES — Football lovers of all stripes gathered to watch the sport’s ultimate event at Boston Beer Garden in Naples this past Sunday. The favorite local hangout used one of their busiest nights of the year as an opportunity to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
The bar bustled with both Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers fans as more than two hundred patrons crowded around any one of Boston Beer Garden’s 32-plus televisions. Beer flowed as plates piled high with ultimate nachos, honey hot chicken wings and white truffle tater tots were passed, and everyone, regardless of team preference, celebrated a win for kids with life threatening illnesses.
St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital was ranked as the best children’s hospital in the country in 2010 by U.S. News and World Report, and specializes in treating children facing cancer and other catastrophic illnesses. But what makes St. Jude’s especially unique is that they never turn a child away, regardless of a family’s ability to pay.
This year the organization teamed up with Fox Sports in a promotion called “Game Day. Give Back.” Designed to remind people that they don’t need to be a football star to make a game-winning play, the promotion encouraged fans to host Super Bowl watching parties that benefited St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
“Game Day. Give Back. provides football fans the dual opportunity to enjoy the game with family and friends while raising funds to help support the lifesaving work being done at St. Jude,” said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising organization of St. Jude.
No stranger to holding community organized events and fundraisers, Boston Beer Garden jumped at the chance to get involved. All month they asked patrons to add one dollar onto their total bill. On Super Bowl Sunday, they pledged 10 percent of the night’s sales to St. Jude’s.
“This is always an exciting time of year at the Boston Beer Garden for football fans,” said bar owner Michael J. Zeto III. “We’re proud to be able to offer our guests the opportunity to support such a worthy cause while enjoying the big game.”
The bar, which first opened on Super Bowl weekend five years ago, was standing room only for most of the game Sunday night. Table reservations were booked days in advance, and by the time kickoff happened, barstools were at a premium.
After seeing an announcement posted on Facebook, roommates Hunter Armstrong and Greg Wilson headed over to catch the action.
“It’s the best place to watch the game with all the TVs, and the staff is awesome,” raved Wilson.
Two barstools down, regulars Brooke Billis and Torri Predmore were in total agreement. “This is kind of our home base; the staff is phenomenal,” Billis cooed, while Predmore added, “And since it’s going to a good cause it makes you willing to have a drink and support.”
Zeto estimated that when all the sales are tallied, they will have raised about $1,500 for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. And next year they hope that number will grow, with the addition of a new outside seating area that will add seating for another 70 patrons.