Special auctions and sales of game-worn and autographed memorabilia will be held in the coming weeks as an Oakland A’s player comes to the aid of a former teammate injured in the crash that killed Angels’ pitcher Nick Adenhart.
Oakland A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki and his wife Renee are raising funds for their good friend Jon Wilhite, the lone survivor of the April 9 car crash that killed Angels’ pitcher Nick Adenhart, Henry Pearson and Courtney Stewart. Kurt and Wilhite were teammates and both catchers in 2004 at Cal State University at Fullerton.
On May 1, Wilhite’s medical status was upgraded to "fair" and he is currently undergoing speech, physical, and occupational therapy at a rehabilitation center in Southern California. All funds raised through the Suzuki’s fundraising efforts will help pay for Wilhite’s rehabilitation costs after recovering from injuries that included an operation on April 15 to reattach his skull and spinal column after a rare separation.
During the month of June, the Suzukis with the help of Orlando and Katie Cabrera, will host an on-line auction through the Oakland A’s website. Included in this auction is new and game-used memorabilia from players and coaches around both the American and National leagues and autographed memorabilia by former players. The memorabilia includes autographed Ryan Howard, Jonathan Papelbon and Alex Rodriguez jerseys and Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday bats as well as autographed game-used Jack Cust cleats and Suzuki catcher’s gear.
"Jon is tough, and has worked hard for everything he has earned in baseball and in life," commented Kurt. "He was always like a little brother to everyone on the team at Fullerton. He was always in a good mood and just a great guy to be around."
The first fundraiser, hosted on-site by Kurt’s wife Renee who also attended CSU Fullerton, is a three-day silent auction which will take place in Southern California during the CSU Fullerton vs. Long Beach State series, May 22 to 24. The silent auction will include autographed items by former Titans and 49ers Major League baseball players, including Suzuki, Chad Cordero, Bobby Crosby, Jason Giambi, Mark Kotsay and Kirk Saarloos.
Finally, Renee and other A’s player’s wives will sell mystery A’s autographed baseballs during the A’s vs. Angels games on Saturday, July 18 and Sunday, July 19. 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. On August 1, all of the proceeds from the A’s silent auction, which will take place behind section 120 during the A’s vs. Toronto game, will benefit the Wilhite Fund. In addition, the A’s Community Fund will match the total money raised in the silent auction.
"Our hearts go out to all the families of those involved in this terrible tragedy," said Kurt. "My wife Renee and I are very close with Jon and his family and were devastated to hear about this horrific accident. As a professional athlete, I have the resources and opportunity to host these fundraisers and I only hope that the money raised will alleviate some of the cost that Jon and his family will be faced with during his long rehab process."