Four years ago, Todd Doney went to a fundraising event where one of the live auction items was use of the Rose Bowl for a day, including a barbecue lunch for 100. Doney bid on it and won. Only at that point did he start thinking about what he would do with it.
"It was too expensive to have my kids' birthday party," said Doney, vice chairman of CB Richard Ellis. "So I came up with an idea to get my friends to pay a fee to play at the bowl and raise money."
Doney dubbed his fundraiser "Battle of the Bowl," and invited colleagues, friends and clients to play flag football to raise funds for Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services, a non-profit children's mental health and welfare agency headquartered in Pasadena. Doney is a board member.
The organization serves over 9,000 children and families every year through a network of facilities across Greater Los Angeles, and the San Gabriel and Antelope valleys.
This year, more than 50 participants gathered at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 6, each paying $750 to play. Sponsors, such as IDS Real Estate Group and Thomas Properties Group Inc., stepped in for the first time with donations between $2,000 and $2,500. A total of $38,000 was raised for Hathaway-Sycamores.
"Every year we do it, we seem to get more recognition, and raise a little bit more money," Doney said.
The goal is to raise funds while having fun, but the organizers approach the game with a pro-like sensibility.
"We do it right," Doney said. "Everyone has a jersey with their name on it. We also have incident replays on the scoreboards; announcers who announce UCLA games; and referees."
The level of competition received a boost this year with the participation of some former local college players, including Paul McDonald, a quarterback at USC, and UCLA quarterbacks Cory Paus and Cade McNown.
This year's victory went to the Patrons, who beat the Benefactors 29-26.
"The game turned out great with no big injuries," Doney said, noting that there had been some sprained ankles and such. "As we get older, people are getting nervous about getting injuries."
Yoo Mi Chin
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