Legends of the Field will hosting its first Legendsfest event Friday, Sept. 6, in Naga-Waukee Park in Delafield.
From 5 to 10 p.m. sports greats will make appearances and sign autographs for fans, all to raise awareness and funds for The Waukesha Women's Center.
Jim Lindenberg, president and CEO of Legends of the Field, based in Hartland, was the former owner of the Milwaukee Wave. During that tenure, he encouraged involvement and giving back to the community, which translated during his transition to Legends of the Field.
"When you can give back to the community, it's fun, and you can help people. People love these causes and supporting kids and families," Lindenberg said. "Everyone can use entertainment and fun. We did a similar event with the Wave, and kids just love their sports heroes."
Lindenberg said he takes great pride in having scheduled representatives from each sport. Those scheduled to appear are Gilbert Brown of the Green Bay Packers, Rollie Fingers of the Milwaukee Brewers, Ron Dayne of the Badgers, Larry Sanders of the Milwaukee Bucks, Coach Keith Tozer of the Milwaukee Wave, the Joe Cool Racing Team and more.
Admission is $20 per person or $30 per pair; kids 12 and younger are free. Parking is included, but autographs are a separate donation cost of $15 per autographed photo or more depending on the item.
The event will also include a silent auction and raffle. There will be food, refreshments and live music by the Eddie Butts Band. All proceeds will benefit The Waukesha Women's Center.
"Our ultimate goal is to raise a lot of money for The Waukesha Women's Center," Lindenberg said. "It's a great, great cause, and they need a lot of help. Their wish list is really long, and I got the tour and met the people and heard their stories, and it brings you down to earth."
The Waukesha Women's Center is an independent nonprofit human service agency that was founded in 1977 to provide services for women and children in Waukesha County.
In 2012 the center served 1,154 adults and 552 children with everything from emergency shelter to programs on domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse. The center also operates a 24-hour crisis line for those in need, which received 7,399 calls in 2012.
According to Eileen Murray, donor development specialist for The Women's Center, the vast majority of clients served are from Waukesha County, but the center does not turn away those in immediate need.
"We work closely with shelters from across the country to provide the safest place for a woman and her family affected by domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse," Murray said. "The most common reason women use our services is because we have immediate short-term shelter, and all our programs are free."
While the center does receive significant government support through grants, nearly 60 percent of all of its funding comes directly from community support. Murray said the center is fortunate to receive the support of donors who believe in their mission.
Though the financial side could easily be the struggle, Murray is quick to point out that the center's biggest challenge is not a dollar amount, but about the people it serves.
"Funding is always a challenge, but the bigger challenge is for our clients and the limited amount of time they may stay in shelter," Murrary said. "During their temporary stay, a woman faces many challenges from dealing with the main issue that brought them to shelter to caring for their children and trying to form and carry out a plan for their future, which may include finding a place to live, gaining employment and starting legal proceedings — all this while going through trauma."
Murray said that the center is excited to have Legends of the Field donating its proceeds from the Legendsfest event, and also for the awareness the event will create about the center and its services.
"We cannot thank Legend of the Field and their sponsors enough for this wonderful event to benefit The Women's Center," Murray said. "Since October of 2012, six women in Waukesha County have lost their lives in relation to domestic violence. Clearly there is a need for the services The Women's Center provides. The proceeds from Legendsfest will help us continue to provide these services at no cost to the women and their children affected by domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse."
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