mMajor League Baseball Hall of Famer Craig Biggio had no idea that when he was honored at the Sunshine Kids’ 40th anniversary, the praise would be peppered with pans. When you unexpectedly find yourself on stage with old buddies Jeff Bagwellme and Brad Ausmus and your son Connor Biggioyou might guess there was some gentle roasting in store.
That’s how it was when the Sunshine Kids honored Biggio at the nonprofit’s anniversary dinner at Club Level in Minute Maid Park. Biggio has been a team player for the charity that provides exciting, positive group activities and opportunities for children with cancer “to get them back to doing what kids need to do . . . have fun and celebrate life.”
Actually, the evening honored Biggio, who serves as the national spokesperson for Sunshine Kids, and his family – wife patty, sons Connor and Cavan and daughter Quinn. But the Hall of Famer was the star.
“It is my heart and soul. I’ve been involved with the Sunshine Kids for over 30 years, so it’s something I love. I love these kids and I’m happy to see so many of these people supporting them tonight,” said Biggio Paper City.
“When you are in a situation where you can do it, you give back. And for me, the Sunshine Kids is a long personal story. I was introduced to cancer at a young age and I made a promise to the family that if I ever found myself in a situation to help and give back I would. The Sunshine Kids kind of fell into our laps and we’ve had an incredible relationship ever since.”
A young boy in Biggio’s Long Island neighborhood, where he grew up, died of leukemia, leaving the future baseball star with a lifelong mission.
With contributions still pouring in, the night had raised more than $400,000, thanks in no small part to sponsors Astros Foundation and Gordy & Sons. The Houston Astros even had the World Series trophy on hand for photo ops and selfies.
Bowing to success were chairs Laura Moore and Don Sanders together with the members of the host committee Glenda and Russell Gordy, Laurie and Bret Sanders, Isabel and Ignacio Torresand Jacqueline and Michael Kennel.
The heartfelt night included Young’s Sunshine Kids testimonial Kendall Ramos and the presenter of the event Melissa Wilson from Fox 26, who shared the story of her son Caleb’s battle with cancer and how he benefited from the programs, including meeting the Astros and Craig Biggio.
It was Sunshine Kid Bennett Nester who surprised Biggio by announcing the line-up on stage for the friendly roast. The boys shared stories about Biggio’s superstitious ways, his favorite band – U2, and humorous tales ranging from the Astrodome to road trips. Conor was asked five words to describe his father. Two of them are ‘loyal’ and ‘weird’.
PC seen: Executive Director of Sunshine Kids Jennifer Wisler, Julia Morales and Matt Clark, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, State Senator Carol Alvarado, Mary and Tony Gracely, Ruth and Nolan Ryan, Aledmys and Dayara Diaz, Monica and Joe Casiano, Vicki Luna, Paula Harris, Susan Sanders, Monica and Joe Casiano, and Vicky Luna.