The Harold Pump Foundation Dinner
You’ll understand why in a second, but please just bear with me.
First, I must explain how most non-profit sports dinners events have been produced in the past.
Once you have parked your car, you arrive to pick up your tickets. There is often a silent auction, cocktail reception and dinner. With the meal a live auction is held with key items. Speeches are made and then everyone goes home.
Its nice, you make a few bucks for a worthy cause, listen to a few celebrated athletes tell stories, hopefully laugh a bit and then call it a day.
I’ve been on both sides of these events. Planning and executing them as well as sitting in the crowd and enjoying the experience.
However, two days ago, at the Harold Pump Foundation Dinner, Dana and David Pump took the experience to an entirely different level.
Why, is that?
Let’s start with the list of guests. Here is a list, its not complete, but a list of folks who attended the event. Most of these folks were not honored, they just attended it.
Vicente Fox (former President of Mexico)
Holly Robinson Peete
My Favorite Moment of the Night: Prior to the event, I was standing around speaking with friends when one of them quietly said, “Isn’t that Penny Marshall right there?”
So twirl around and there she is, signature glasses and all standing by herself, waiting to enter the ballroom for the event.
I stretched out my right hand to shake hers.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” I said. ”I enjoy your work, I am not here to bother you and hope you have a wonderful time.”
She laughed, thanked me and then disappeared into a room that would hold between 900 and 1,000 people for the night.
I wasn’t there to take pictures of the famous, to get their autographs or follow folks around.
I was there, like many others to support Dana and David Pump’s work to raise money for cancer research. Like them, I lost a parent to cancer and it touches you in a way like no other. You can never understand losing a parent until it happens to you. You just cannot explain it or feel it until it impacts your world.
That said, there were lots of people that were there to take photos, get autographs and be seen with the famous. I saw kids lined up with their parents to grab an autograph or three. I particularly loved watching two little boys who were maybe six or seven, dressed in suits and holding notebooks. They fidgeted with their ties while waiting for the next star to walk off the red carpet and to ask them to sign their book before the VIP’s headed into a private reception.
Reunion: Dana Pump, of the twin brothers who organized the event, was kind enough to seat me at his table in the middle of the room. Who was sitting at the table next to me? My old skipper Tommy Lasorda. I first saw him come off the red carpet and when he was finishing signing an autograph looked up, saw me and recognized me and then gave me a nice hug.
“Where you YOU been?” he said, in that voice that is distincly Lasorda.
I have always been amazed at Tommy’s memory. I have so many Tommy memories from my tie at the Dodgers and a few of those I’ve shared here. We spoke for a few moments and then he was off to the VIP room. I also received a nice hug from Hall of Famer Eddie Murray. He only played with the Dodgers a short time but when he saw me, I also received a hug and a kind greeting from the former Baltimore Oriole.
Disappointment of the Night: There were so many sports people that a few seemed to get lost during the night, including my old college buddy and current Oklahoma City Coach Scott Brooks. I didn’t even find out here was in attendance until late int he evening program and without knowing where the former Anteater star and my college classmate was sitting, there was no way to say hello.
Raising Money: Between the VIP golf tournament, pre-event dinner and the gala, I would take a stab and guess the Foundation grossed more than a million dollars for a the couple of days, maybe netting $500 or $600,000 dollars. If that is true, it would add to the coffers of the Pump Foundation to give back. The group has stated that it has already doled out more than $4.6 million dollars to fight cancer.