Non-cash gifts key to Walter and Connie Payton Foundation success

By way of gifts, pledges and grants, the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation has nearly doubled its annual revenues since 2008.

Despite a struggling economy and dramatic reduction in government grants, the foundation has continued to grow and expand its charitable contributions annually, according to the organization’s financial filings.

“We know that everybody is feeling the economic pinch, but our donors seem to still be driven to support our city’s children, and that is beautiful,” assistant to Connie Payton, Kelly Woods, said.

From 2005 through 2008, the foundation generated $1.40 million in total revenue. They did so through federal grants totaling $780,000 and by coordinating toy drives throughout the city and suburbs.

However, 2009 turned out to be a banner year for the foundation as it generated $1.26 million, a whopping 42 percent jump over the prior year. And, the foundation did so despite receiving a 20 percent reduction in government grants from the $250,000 received in 2008.

* 2011 reported revenue subject to restatement

* 2011 reported revenue subject to restatement

“We really focused on fundraising events. We quadrupled our event fundraising in 2009,” Jarrett Payton added.
The $57,072 that the foundation raised in 2009, through two events: “The Sweetness Run” and “Sweetness Games Night,” was a 21 percent increase over the prior year.

But, the key contribution to the successful 2009 fiscal year for the foundation was its dramatic increase in non-cash gifts. The foundation more than tripled the $282,103 non-cash gifts received in 2008 to $968,129.

“I would say that we really began to get involved in the schools throughout the city and held more fundraising events, but the biggest contribution we got was when my mother [Connie Payton] went on to the Dr. Oz show,” Jarrett Payton said.

Connie Payton first represented the foundation in October 2006 on the “Meet The Peete’s” radio show, hosted by Rodney and Robinson Peete. Since then, the Payton family has been on “The Dr. Oz Show”, hosted by Dr. Mehmet Oz, each October to celebrate Cancer Awareness Month. “Meet The Peete’s” and “The Dr. Oz Show” are both produced by Oprah Winfrey’s Chicago-based Harpo Inc.

“I remember the weeks following Dr. Oz in 2007, we were getting so many calls that we had to hire another assistant,” Kelly Woods remembered.

From 2009 to 2011, the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation has maintained annual revenues of approximately $1.3 million, most of which still comes from noncash gifts and contributions.

“To date, my family’s foundation has raised over $5 million in toys, grants and school supplies to help Chicago’s underprivileged children,” Jarrett Payton said.


Scott Kitun/The Medillian

Scott Kitun/The Medillian

Each year St. Patrick High School, in Portage Park, and St. Viator High School, in northwest suburban Arlington Heights, compete to see who can collect the most toys for the annual Walter and Connie Payton Foundation Christmas Party.

This year is no different.

St. Patrick has outdueled St. Viator in the annual Christmas toy drive two of the past three years.

“Having played for St. Viator and competing against St. Pat’s and coach Galante, I am truly appreciative for everything they have done for my family and our foundation,” said Jarrett Payton, son of the Chicago Bears’ legendary running back Walter Payton.

Known by the nickname of “Sweetness,” for his graceful running style and generous personality, Walter Payton was well-known for giving back to the community and especially to the children, his son noted.

Following his passing in 1999, Connie and their children, Jarrett and Brittany, established the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation to carry on their father’s legacy of sweetness.

By hosting toy drives over the past decade, the foundation has provided Christmas joy for thousands of underprivileged children throughout the city of Chicago, Jarrett Payton said.

“I just remember as a little kid my dad letting me go to the toy store and fill up a cart with anything I wanted. Then he would pull into a poor neighborhood and just pop the trunk and I would look at him like he was crazy,” he said. “Then, he would look at me and explain what it meant to be blessed and how to bless others and we would give all the toys away. That’s how it all started.”

For the past four years the Gary family, of 686 Buena Vista Dr. in Glen Ellyn, has hosted an annual Christmas party for the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation.

Last year alone, St. Patrick’s helped to collect over 300 toys for the annual toy drive and already this year according to St. Patrick Principal Joe Schmidt, they are on pace to collect even more, having collected over 250 toys to date.

“The foundation is very dear to our hearts and this party is a thank you to all of those who get involved,” Christy Gary said Saturday evening at the party.

The growth of the foundation has relied on the effort of families such as the Gary’s and on schools such as St. Patrick High School and St. Viator, where Jarrett was a star football athlete at quarterback and running back before his pro days in the Canadian Football League and the NFL.

“We always had to face Jarrett and St. Viator in sports and I got to know Walter over the years. I grew to have such respect for him that we retired his jersey, number 34,” St. Pat’s Athletic Director, Brian Glorioso said.

“Actually, each year the boys that do the most community service get to wear number 34 for the day,” he added. “That’s the kind of respect we have for the Payton’s.”

Local bar brings South Bend to Notre Dame grads

Scott Kitun/The Medillian

Notre Dame enters this Saturday’s rivalry game against University of Southern California ranked number 1 for the first time in the BCS era.

This game marks a reversal of fortune for both teams. Southern Cal, now unranked, began this season ranked number 1 in the preseason polls, while Notre Dame remained unranked.

Here at The Temple Bar, an official Notre Dame Chicago bar, located at 3001 N. Ashland Avenue, Irish fans are lined up out the door, clad from head-to-toe in blue and gold.

“The USC game is always the biggest of the year for us, but given that a win here puts us into the title game, makes this the biggest game of my life.” Logan Square resident, Tim Madden said.

The Irish and Trojans have played 82 times dating back to 1926. The Irish currently lead the overall matchup with 43 victories in the rivalry. However, the Irish have managed just one win, in 2010, against the USC Trojans over the past ten meetings.

Headlined by their Heisman Trophy candidate linebacker, Manti T’eo, the Irish are competing against a Southern Cal team that is currently unranked and playing without their star quarterback Matt Barkley, who is out with an injury.

Prior to kickoff, Irish fans huddled around the TV monitors singing the school song and cheering on the players as they entered the field.

The Temple Bar manager, George Zak described his experience at the bar as “the tale of two bars”. Temple is typically a low key Irish pub, but football Saturday, it turns into a real college bar.

“Its like this every weekend. These fans are rabid. You would swear we are at the game live the way these guys are screaming.” Zak said.

“I think we are always a little worried when we go against teams like USC,” Notre Dame graduate and Bucktown resident, Chase Riddle said.

“It’s like we aren’t entirely confident, until the defense gets a stop or we throw some point on the board.”

With a score of 16 – 10 at the half, Irish fans are really beginning to get into the game here at Temple.

This is the last game of the season for Notre Dame and their faithful understand that a win here today will most likely result in the Irish maintaining their number 1 BCS ranking, which would ensure that they play in the Discover BCS National Championship in Miami, Fla. on January 7.

“Trust me. We all know what this means, we all hear the overrated chants and this would be a loud response by the Irish. Undefeated and number 1, baby.” Madden said.

After a second half push by the Trojans, quieting some of the Irish fans at Temple, the Irish finally began to pull away in the fourth quarter with a barrage of field goals.

“I always get a little nervous in the second half. It’s like we can’t just lock the door. We always leave it a little bit open.” Riddle said.

After waiting 19 years, the Notre Dame fans couldn’t wait another minute. Shots began to pour and sounds of “Victory March”, the school’s fight song, rang out with minutes still on the game clock.

While Notre Dame will have to wait until BCS Selection Sunday on December 2 to punch their official ticket to Miami, today’s 22 – 13 win over USC makes Notre Dame a virtual lock for the BCS National Championship.

“Notre Dame is back. We earned it and now we’re number 1.” Riddle said.